May 12

Federal appeals court to consider future of lawsuit over Colorado’s TABOR

Federal appeals court to consider future of lawsuit over Colorado’s TABOR

The 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that tax increases be approved by voters

Two women walk up the steps on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, on Oct. 16, 2018. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider whether a long-running lawsuit challenging Colorado’s strict tax and spending limits as unconstitutional can proceed.

Colorado Politics reports that a nine-judge panel will consider on Monday a review of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 by group of elected officials.

The 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that tax increases be approved by voters. It also requires the state to refund tax revenue that exceeds a figure determined by a formula based on inflation and population growth.

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May 12

9 federal judges set to decide fate of TABOR repeal lawsuit

9 federal judges set to decide fate of TABOR repeal lawsuit

Hickenlooper submits his final state budget, but it may not last long
Exactly 10 years after a group of local and state elected officials first filed a legal challenge to Colorado’s most celebrated — and vilified — constitutional provision, the entirety of the Denver-based federal appeals court will now consider whether to pull the plug on that fight.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which hears appeals from Colorado and five surrounding states, will hold a rare all-judges hearing, known as an “en banc” review, of the lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Although appellate courts typically issue decisions in panels of three judges, the 10th Circuit in October granted en banc review of the TABOR case.

Such hearings are highly atypical: from October 2018 through September 2019, the 10th Circuit only heard one case en banc out of more than 1,100.

There are 12 authorized judgeships on the 10th Circuit that require presidential nomination and U.S. Senate confirmation. However, only nine judges will participate in the en banc panel: five who were nominees of Democratic presidents and four who were Republican nominees.

The diminished number is the result of two Clinton administration appointees retiring from active status earlier this year. One of them, Senior Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, will join the en banc hearing. In addition, of the 10 remaining active judges, Scott M. Matheson Jr., a nominee of President Barack Obama, and Joel M. Carson III, a nominee of Donald Trump, have each recused themselves.

TABOR, a 1992 constitutional amendment, limits the amount of revenue the state can collect and spend, and requires voter approval for new taxes and tax rate increases. The amendment also provided a mechanism to refund revenue collections to taxpayers in excess of a formula based on inflation and population growth. Colorado refunded nearly $3.5 billion in the quarter-century since TABOR’s passage.

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May 12

Debunking the top 5 misleading claims about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights experience

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  • Debate over North Carolina’s recently proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights will begin heating up soon
  • Opponents will likely try to portray Colorado’s experience in a negative light, to serve as a warning
  • Their major claims, however, are easily debunked

North Carolina legislators recently filed a bill that would enable voters to decide if a Taxpayer Bill of Rights should be added to the state constitution.

The main feature of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights is that it would limit the annual growth rate of the state budget to a rate tied to inflation plus population growth. Other provisions would require voter approval of tax increases and mandate that excess revenue collections be used to bolster the state’s Rainy Day fund and refunded back to taxpayers.

The benefits of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights are many, most notable in that it would make permanent the fiscal restraint that conservative lawmakers have exercised over the last decade. Common-sense restraints on spending can smooth out spending cycles, better prepare the state for economic downturns, and enable tax cuts to make North Carolina more competitive for investment and job growth.

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May 12

GUEST COLUMN: Family budgets beset by politician’s plans

Paul Lundeen
Paul Lundeen

There is no doubt Colorado needs to upgrade its roads and bridges. You can’t drive in El Paso County without swerving around potholes. Now that the pandemic appears to have crossed a tipping point, wait times are building again to get from Colorado Springs to Denver.

The fact that Colorado legislators are paying attention to our infrastructure problems should be a win. But SB 260 is more about building government than building roads.

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May 10

Federal judges to hear TABOR repeal, appellate court deals with censured judge

COURT CRAWL | Federal judges to hear TABOR repeal, appellate court deals with censured judge

Courthouse close with Justice inscribed
Welcome to Court Crawl, Colorado Politics’ roundup of news from the third branch of government. Today will feature a rare all-judges hearing in Colorado’s federal appellate court, plus the state’s Court of Appeals last week issued guidance for parties who appeared before a now-censured judge.

TABOR saga continues

This morning, the entire roster of judges on the Denver-based federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in the decade-long lawsuit over whether to declare Colorado’s 1992 Taxpayer Bill of Rights unconstitutional. Today’s hearing likely won’t end the lawsuit: the question before the judges is whether political subdivisions, like school districts or boards of county commissioners, have legal standing to sue for TABOR’s repeal.

•  Listen live at 10 a.m. here.

COURT CRAWL | Federal judges to hear TABOR repeal, appellate court deals with censured judge | Courts | coloradopolitics.com

May 04

Protect Colorado Taxpayers – Vote NO on the Gas Tax

You’ve likely heard about the legislature’s new gas tax proposal, which seeks to raise over $4 billion to “solve” our infrastructure needs. This massive proposal includes new charges at the gas pump, on delivery services like Amazon, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and more.   No matter who you are, they have a new charge for you.

We all agree that our roads and bridges need repair, but Coloradans already pay 22 cents per gallon in State taxes, on top of the 18.4 cents we pay in federal taxes. For certain politicians that’s just not enough.

Much of the debate has focused on the questionable legality of the proposal, due to the passage of Proposition 117 just this past November.  That requires governments to receive voter approval before enacting these types of new, large “fees.” The unique protections of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, require the legislature to obtain voter approval before raising taxes. But sponsors won’t let that stop them. Instead, they’re calling these new taxes, “fees,”’ so that Colorado voters won’t have a voice in the process. Continue reading

May 03

Objectors unsuccessful at blocking property tax cuts at Title Board

The Title Board reconsidered its ballot titles for three property tax reduction proposals at its April 30, 2021 meeting.

Opponents were unsuccessful at derailing three ballot initiatives that would cost local governments more than $1 billion in property tax revenue as the Title Board on Friday stuck by its original decision to award a ballot title to the measures.

On April 21, the three-member board concluded Initiatives #26-28 contained a single subject, as the state constitution requires, and consequently set a title that would appear before voters. But objectors Carol Hedges and Scott Wasserman challenged the board’s finding, trigging a rehearing at the Title Board’s final meeting to screen proposals for the 2021 statewide ballot.

As introduced, the initiatives would all reduce the residential property tax assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.5% and cut the assessment rate for all other property from 29% to 26.4%. Nonpartisan fiscal analysts estimated the tax cut would constitute a $1.03 billion hit to local governments, affecting services such as K-12 education and police. Because Colorado’s school financing scheme requires the state to backfill funding for local districts, there would be an extra $258 million in additional state spending each year.

Partially offsetting the sizeable loss in local government revenue would be $25 million that the state could temporarily direct toward localities — if excess income exists that normally would be refunded under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The three proposed initiatives would funnel the money toward fire protection, toward reimbursements for the senior homestead tax exemption, toward general relief.

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