Jan 29

GUEST COLUMN: No more kicking the can down the (potholed) road

“Then, when the money dries up, taxpayers are asked to raise taxes again. This happened just this last November, when Democrats tried to push Proposition CC as the solution to transportation funding.” – Sen Lundeen & Rep Carver

 

For years — decades even — Coloradans have called upon the General Assembly to prioritize Colorado’s outdated transportation infrastructure. Our elected officials have for so long kicked this proverbial can down the (potholed) road that the Colorado Department of Transportation now has a backlog of anywhere from $7 billion to $9 billion in projects. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly a fourth of Colorado’s entire budget this year.

We hear it all the time — where are the taxes we already pay going?

The truth is that the legislature has been using your tax dollars as a piggy bank for pet projects instead of utilizing them to fill potholes and add new highway lanes. Pet projects such as Senate Bill 19-173, a $800,000 study on the feasibility of the state government getting involved in your retirement savings, the creation of an “Office of Just Transition” that has been covered extensively in the press, and $6 million for unnecessary census outreach that wasn’t required by the federal government. These have all been priorities of legislative Democrats — not transportation.

Jan 28

When it comes to repairing Colorado roads, is there a better solution than the gas tax?

Editor’s Note: Denver7 360 stories explore multiple sides of the topics that matter most to Coloradans, bringing in different perspectives so you can make up your own mind about the issues. To comment on this or other 360 stories, email us at 360@TheDenverChannel.com. See more 360 stories here.

DENVER — With more drivers using Colorado roads, there’s not only more traffic, but more wear and tear on the infrastructure. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has identified $9 billion in needs from repair and replacement to improvements to help alleviate congestion.

“Without funding, these can’t get fixed,” said CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew.

For decades, the gas tax has served as the state’s main source of funding for transportation projects. Each time a driver fills up their gas tank, 18 cents go to the federal government and another 22 cents go to the state.

However, the state gas tax hasn’t been raised in nearly three decades.

So, is it time to raise the gas tax or are there other ideas to raise money for Colorado roads? Denver7 went 360 to hear multiple perspectives on the issue of transportation funding.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Jan 28

How will legislative Democrats pay for their agenda?

DENVER–Governor Polis and the majority Democrats have an ambitious agenda this legislative session. Question is, how will they pay for it all?  With the failure of Proposition CC in November, those who were hanging their hats on voters giving up future tax refunds, allowing the state to keep and spend overcollected tax revenue, will need to find new pots of money.  Indeed, not only did Coloradans vote to keep the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) revenue limit in place, that limit has been hit and the state income tax rate is actually ratcheting down for the year.

Republican strategist Roger Hudson and Democrat strategist Miller Hudson recently sat down with Complete Colorado editor-in-Chief Mike Krause on the public affairs TV show Devil’s Advocate (airs Friday nights at 8:30 on Colorado Public Television, channel 12) to talk about where Democrats might turn to bring in new revenues. Both agree that one option is more more fee-funded government-run enterprises, which operate outside the TABOR budget cap. Check out the video below to find out more.

VIDEO: How will legislative Democrats pay for their agenda?

Jan 28

River district considering tax hike

The board of the Western Slope’s Colorado River District is considering whether to ask residents in the 15 counties it serves, including Mesa County, to approve a tax hike.

The district’s general manager, Andy Mueller, is recommending that the board consider seeking voter approval in November to raise the district’s property tax mill levy to 0.5 mills. That would boost annual revenues by about $4.9 million, much of which the district could use to work with partners to fund water projects.

The increase would cost the average homeowner in the district an estimated $8.63 a year, but that amount would vary widely across the district due to disparities in property values, ranging from about $3.71 a year in Moffat County to $23 a year in Pitkin County. The increase would cost about $1.90 a year per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Jan 23

Bipartisan bill proposes fee-based hazard mitigation enterprise; to fall outside TABOR revenue limits

Bipartisan bill proposes fee-based hazard mitigation enterprise; to fall outside TABOR revenue limits

January 22, 2020 By Scott Weiser


Hazard mitigation controlled burn
Courtesy of W. Perry Conway

DENVER–House members Matt Soper, R-Grand Junction and Lisa Cutter, D-Jefferson County are proposing to create a new state-owned hazard mitigation enterprise that would collect a 0.05% fee on certain policies from insurance companies.

The enterprise would in part “assist entities that apply for federal grants that require matching funds and are dedicated to assisting in the implementation of pre-disaster hazard mitigation measures.”

Other tasks include “public education on the importance of insurance in buying down risk and for the continuity of business operations, and provide local governments technical information and support on natural hazard mitigation through land use and building codes.”

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Jan 23

Income tax rate reduction bill killed by Senate Democrats

Income tax rate reduction bill killed by Senate Democrats

(Photo illustration by Tinnakorn Jorruang, iStock)

Gov. Jared Polis, in his state of the state address on Jan. 9, continued to voice support for the concept of an income tax rate reduction, but it isn’t going over well with Democrats in the state legislature.

And they showed that on Wednesday, when Democrats on the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee put to an end Senate Bill 20, voting it down on a 3-2 party-line vote.

The measure is the second attempt in the past two years from Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling.

Sonnenberg’s bill would reduce the state’s individual and corporate income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.49%. The bill’s fiscal analysis said it would cost the state $143.8 million in lost tax revenue in 2019-20 and $294.6 million the following year.

And because of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), that reduction would be permanent unless voters decided to allow the state to increase income tax rates through a ballot measure.

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Jan 19

2020 Triggers Blue State Tax Cuts, As Colorado Shows How To Insulate A State From Higher Taxes And Unsustainable Spending

The new year has brought reduced income tax rates to two Democrat-run states: Colorado and Massachusetts. These income tax cuts were the result of two and nearly three decade old laws that triggered this new round of income tax relief in the face of opposition from progressive politicians who control state government in Denver and Boston.

Massachusetts’ flat income tax rate dropped from 5.05% to 5.00% on New Years Day 2020, the result of a ballot measure approved by Massachusetts voters in the year 2000, the implementation of which was subsequently delayed by Massachusetts legislators. Colorado, like Massachusetts, is another state where the ruling political class saw an income tax cut that it opposed take effect on January 1, with the rate dropping from 4.63% to 4.5% for one year. This temporary rate cut is the result of a law approved by Colorado voters eight years before Massachusetts’ two decade-old tax cut-triggering ballot measure.

The temporary income tax cut that recently took effect in Colorado is due to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), an amendment to the state constitution approved by voters in 1992 that to this day is the strongest taxpayer safeguard in the nation. Under TABOR, state revenue cannot grow faster than the combined rate of population growth and inflation. Any state revenue collected in excess of the TABOR cap must be refunded to taxpayers.

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