Feb 21

Grocery tax is well past its expiration date

Grocery tax is well past its expiration date

Posted 

There was a time when our town only had two grocery stores and a handful of gas stations.

Before the redevelopment of our downtown core — before the factory outlet — and even before our state recognized the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), our town services subsisted on the grocery tax. Because we had nothing else.

We paid for our cops, built our roads, and ran a town government through the direct taxation of the milk and bread that was purchased at those two, small grocery stores.

But we aren’t that small town anymore.

With the addition of the Promenade and continued improvement in the economy, we are seeing our town coffers grow to more than $44 million in sales tax revenue in 2017 alone. In 2016, that number was $39 million.

Yet in spite of a healthy and diversified economy here in town, we continue to incorporate the most regressive sales tax imaginable.

Continue reading

Feb 12

Constitutionality of Grand Lake fee questioned by TABOR Committee

Constitutionality of Grand Lake fee questioned by TABOR Committee

Lance Maggart

February 8, 2018

A furor was stirred up in Grand Lake earlier this year after town officials announced the implementation of a new municipal fee, and now one state advocacy group is calling into question the fee’s legitimacy.

In late January, the Tax Payer’s Bill of Rights Committee, or TABOR, the advocacy arm of the independent TABOR Foundation, issued a letter to Grand Lake’s town government, contesting the legal basis for the recently adopted fee, which imposes an additional $100 charge on each water tap within the community. The charge has been earmarked to pay for law enforcement and emergency dispatch services as well as street lighting.

“New receipts are to be deposited to the general fund and are intended to cover expenses that are traditionally core functions of town governance, namely street lighting and safety,” read the letter from the TABOR Committee. “Although the Colorado Constitution clearly calls for citizens to vote on all new taxes, you are trying to avoid the plain language of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by identifying the new tax as a ‘fee.'” Continue reading

Feb 10

Grover Norquist: Republicans produce nationally, but in Colorado they betray taxpayers locally

by Grover Norquist | 

Some Republican state legislators remind us that no one’s life is a complete waste — some simply serve as bad examples. One of those bad examples can be found in Colorado. (AP Photo/P. Solomon Banda)

Congress just proved an amazing thing happens when Republicans remember to govern as Reagan Republicans.

The most substantial tax overhaul since the Reagan years has sparked our economy. Republicans in Congress gathered the courage to face down the pro-tax media, special interests, and the opposition of every single Democrat in Congress to help families keep more of what they earn. Already tax reform has resulted in at least 285 companies announcing wage increases, bonuses, and higher 401(k) matches for 3 million workers. Utility companies are reducing rates in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Continue reading

Feb 03

The Republican grand betrayal that just keeps getting worse

PUBLISHED: 

To comprehend how that’s possible, we need to understand the largest betrayal of Republican values in Colorado political history: the tax-hiking, debt-raising, TABOR-busting Senate Bill 267, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and enabled by the schizophrenic leadership of Senate President Kevin Grantham.

The beauty of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is that taxes and debt can grow as high as any communist would like, all you have to do is ask the voters first. But elected officials, doing their best Bernie Madoff, don’t want to ask for consent when they know the answer is going to be “no.” They re-label taxes as “fees” and debt as “certificates of participation,” so the Colorado Supreme Court lets them take our money without our voter consent.

In 2009, without asking, the state forced an extra tax on us when we’re sick and have to go to the hospital. In their best George Orwell, the legislature named this tax “The Hospital Provider Fee,” as if hospitals, not patients, pay it. The new “fee” generated more than $650 million in 2016, pushing Colorado’s revenue over its TABOR cap.

Click (HERE) to read the rest of this story

 

 

Jan 30

Legislators find way to restore pot-tax funding to RTD, museums

Legislators find way to restore pot-tax funding to RTD, museums

A RTD train sits at the corporate office, located between the Evans and Broadway stations.

By Ed Sealover  –  Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Jan 30, 2018

Regional Transportation District trains, Scientific and Cultural Facilities District museums and other beneficiaries of special-district funding soon will be on a path to again receive the revenues from retail marijuana sales that they’d been losing since July.

Colorado senators on Tuesday approved a “fix” for the language that has left those districts unable to collect sales taxes for cannabis sales within their district since shortly after an omnibus funding bill from the 2017 session was signed into law. Affected organizations have warned that while the problem has not led to program cuts yet, it could do so in the future if it’s not remedied.

The fix to the error made in Senate Bill 267 is not one with unanimous support, having passed to the House Tuesday on a final vote of 24-10. Republican leaders warned not only that they feel the bill is unconstitutional, but that districts that re-start the collection of marijuana taxes without a vote of the people may be challenged in court.

Still, the organizations likely to begin receiving more money in the near future cheered Thursday’s vote to pass Senate Bill 88 out of the Republican-majority Senate and onto the Democrat-led House, where leaders have expressed support for the fix.

“Right now we’ve been able to absorb that loss of revenue. But long-term it’s definitely going to affect what we’re able to do,” said Scott Reed, assistant general manager for communications at RTD, which has lost about $500,000 a month. “This is a step in the right direction to correct the inadvertent mistake from Senate Bill 267.” Continue reading

Jan 17

Americans for Prosperity offer ‘Road to Freedom’ to Colorado lawmakers

Americans for Prosperity offer ‘Road to Freedom’ to Colorado lawmakers

Author: Joey Bunch – January 17, 2018 – Updated: 19 hours ago

Americans for Prosperity(Courtesy of Americans for Prosperity)

You won’t find Bob Hope or Bing Crosby but Americans for Prosperity are urging Colorado lawmakers to take the “Road to Freedom,” the conservative organization’s legislative agenda.

Colorado Politics scored an early review of the AFP’s positions on energy, education, transportation and the  Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

You can read the document by clicking here.

“We made great strides in 2017 defending TABOR and advancing policies that promote economic freedom,” Jesse Mallory, AFP’s state director and the former Colorado Senate Republicans’ chief of staff, said in a statement.

Continue reading

Jan 14

A 25-cent Colorado plastic bag tax proposed by Rep. Paul Rosenthal and Sen. Lois Court

Author: Joey Bunch – January 13, 2018 – Updated: 17 hours ago

The bill, if passed, would refer a measure onto the ballot to ask Colorado voters to approve a tax on plastic bags from the supermarket. The tax would be a quarter, the same amount whether the customer at the checkout counter uses one bag or several. The proceeds would go to grants and loans to local governments and building contractors to build or retain affordable housing in Colorado.

The text of House Bill 1054 can be read by clicking here.

Compared to runaway housing prices, the bag tax comparably is a small price to pay, The tax, they project, could raise $50 million a year.

“No matter where I go or who I talk to, the sky-high cost of housing is the number one concern that I hear,” Rosenthal said in a statement.

Court said, “Even with the construction of a large number of new condos, the leases are expensive and not bringing down the cost of housing in the city,” she said. “We see many areas of the state dealing with this issue—it’s not just the Denver metro area.”

As a bonus, the tax would encourage the use of reusable or paper bags and raise awareness of plastic bag waste in Colorado.

“Plastic bags pollute and litter our environment, plus they’re an eyesore and they don’t biodegrade,” Rosenthal said. “We have to be far more aggressive when it comes to curbing our daily waste, which only adds to the mountainous heaps of garbage that currently litter our state.”

Several Colorado cities already tax plastic bags, “proof that the system works in the state,” according to Rosenthal.

Boulder passed a 10-cent fee on all disposable paper and plastic bags and reduced in 2013, and the next year bag use dropped 69 percent in the city, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

The bill carves out exemptions for restaurants and those eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Jan 12

County faces lawsuit over 2012 sheriff’s tax 

County faces lawsuit over 2012 sheriff’s tax

A sales tax funds nearly a quarter of the Sheriff’s Office staff. - PAM ZUBECK

  • Pam Zubeck
  • A sales tax funds nearly a quarter of the Sheriff’s Office staff.

A version of this story first appeared on the Indy‘s news blog, The Wire.

When El Paso County asked voters in 2012 to impose a .23 percent sales tax to fund the Sheriff’s Office, the ballot question said the new tax would raise “approximately $17 million” annually.

Turns out, it raised $17,898,721 in the first year and even more every year since. But the county hasn’t made a move to either lower the tax or refund the extra money.

Now, anti-taxer Douglas Bruce wants to force the issue. He filed a lawsuit on Dec. 26 seeking a refund to taxpayers of that roughly $900,000, with 10 percent interest per year for four years, and a reduction in the tax rate to prevent future excess collections.

That’s what he says is required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a state constitutional amendment that Bruce authored, which was adopted by voters in 1992. TABOR states that if a tax increase generates revenue that exceeds an estimate contained in the election notice ballot measure, the tax rate must be lowered in subsequent years and the excess refunded in the next fiscal year.

“They are only supposed to get whatever they asked for,” Bruce says, noting in the lawsuit that TABOR provisions were designed to “prevent government from ‘lowballing’ the true cost of what it requests in order to lure voters to support it.” Continue reading

Dec 23

Hospital Provider Fee Lawsuit Update

Where do we stand today on the Hospital Provider charge lawsuit?

There has been a flurry of activity.  The original lawsuit (“Complaint”) languished in the Court without resolution for more than 18 months.  Then, late in the session the legislature passed the infamous SB267, which among other steps, increased future state taxes up to $400 million per year without voter approval, and moved the Hospital Provider Fund off the books and supposedly redefined that welfare program as a government business.

The TABOR Foundation’s attorneys at Mountain States filed an amended Complaint to address the additional unconstitutional provisions of SB267.  More recently Mountain States met the deadlines imposed by the Court for any further amendments.  The revised Complaint (attached here) broadens the parties with standing to include individuals who paid the Hospital Provider charge, Rebecca Sopkin and Scott Rankin, and added the Colorado Union of Taxpayers; a change that the Board approved earlier this year.   There was some refinement of the arguments.

Some uncertainty exists about how the lawsuit will proceed.  There is a Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss that will probably be addressed in January.  However, the Court has allowed the lawsuit to proceed, so Steve Lechner will simultaneously be preparing the case for the June Hearing.  Motions for discovery were issued timely and Defendants’ (now both the State and the Hospital Association) information will be gathered.

Stay tuned; this lawsuit is now moving along quickly.

Penn R. Pfiffner

Dec 15

Hear Penn Pfiffner discuss TABOR First Amendment rights vs city of Denver Campaign Disclosures on December 15

At 6:00 PM tonight, Penn Pfiffner talks about TABOR First Amendment Rights Vs Campaign Disclosures … The Goldwater Institute Takes To The Courts To Protect Free Speech

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