TABOR Committee members and TABOR friends,
The final of three lawsuit developments:
Last Friday, the TABOR Foundation filed a new lawsuit. The legal firm representing us is Mountain States Legal Foundation.
The legislature responded in 2009 to an incentive offered by the federal government. The Medicaid program prompted states to impose a new tax (the word the Medicaid program uses). Revenues received would be matched and the funds made available to pay (some) hospitals for care of indigent people who otherwise would leave the hospitals uncompensated. As the legislation was moving forward, a memo was generated at the Capitol warning legislators that if the charges were used ONLY for the hospital match, they could qualify as a fee (I would dispute that, but that’s not the issue at hand). Legislators were warned that if the revenues were used instead for general fund purposes, the charge would definitely be a tax and subject to a TABOR vote.
In three different fiscal years, the legislature diverted some portion of those funds for general appropriations. Yet, no TABOR prior voter approval was ever obtained, in violation of the TABOR provision in the Colorado Constitution.
The TABOR Committee last fall asked the Hickenlooper administration to address the breach and to negotiate a solution in good faith. The first meeting was put off until well after the legislative session started, and promises to raise the issue within the Governor’s Council and communicate back were not fulfilled. Rather, Governor Hickenlooper went public with a scheme to move the whole thing off budget, as if the tax was handled by a government business!
Penn R. Pfiffner
Chairman, TABOR Committee