Posted: 01/19/2015 02:28:32 PM MST
All the pomp, circumstance, speeches and hoopla are behind us and the task of legislating on behalf of the people is about to begin in earnest for the 70th General Assembly.
However, drama and subplots continue to weave their way through the fabric of the Chambers. Our Republican Caucus learned last week that our Assistant Minority Leader (Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada) was stepping down to accept a position as a JeffCo County Commissioner. Her departure sets up a struggle for her vacated position between Rep. Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton (currently the Minority Whip) and Rep. Clarice Navarro, R-Pueblo (and maybe others – who knows…). Now the plot thickens — with Rep. Lawrence running for Assistant Minority Leader, the Whip position becomes open. To date, Rep. Tim Dore (R-Elizabeth) and Rep. Dan Nordberg (R-Colorado Springs) have thrown their hats into the ring. Just when we thought the campaigning was over…
The other side of the aisle is not without its own political maneuvering as the session opens. Strategies are already under way to recapture seats lost in the 2014 election. As an example, former Rep. Jenice May (D-Aurora) lost to Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R-Commerce City) by just more than 100 votes. Miraculously, former Rep. May is back on the House floor for the session as an “advisor” to House Speaker Hullinghorst (D-Boulder)! An interesting strategy to strengthen former Rep. May’s resume for a possible run at Rep. Windholz’s seat in 2016. And the beat goes on…
Brace yourself to be bombarded by a flood of acronyms this session. One of the “biggies” will be TABOR – the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
In 1992, Colorado voters approved a measure, which amended Article X of the Colorado Constitution that restricts revenues for all levels of government (state, local and schools). Under TABOR, government entities cannot raise taxes without voter approval and cannot spend revenues collected under existing tax rates without voter approval if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and population growth. The state of Colorado is rapidly approaching the TABOR revenue limit.
Once the limit is reached, TABOR requires that the excess revenues collected from taxes be refunded back to the taxpayers. More money that the government could spend – Surprise…there’s going to be a battle!
The D’s have made it clear that they would like to keep the money to spend where they feel it would be best. The R’s have made it equally as clear that they want to give the money back to the taxpayers in accordance with how the people voted in 1992. And if there is a specific need for increased revenue, go back to the voters with specific tax requests.
Supporters of TABOR argue that the money is ours, give it back! Opponents of TABOR argue that the refund would only buy a tank of gas, so the government should just keep it. According to the state economists, even after all the mandated refunds, there would be in excess of $800 million in revenues available for new spending. Watch for the TABOR skirmishes as the session hits full steam!
Every program and project at the state level requires dollars. All dollars come from the taxpayers. It all comes down to dollars, and the 2015 battle is on. Stay tuned as we press ahead. During the “battle,” you can call us at (303) 866-2747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Jim Wilson is the representative for House District 60.