Although the election may have ended a month ago, at least one Colorado school district superintendent hasn’t stopped campaigning.
Littleton Public Schools (LPS) Superintendent Brian Ewert sent out a newsletter Wednesday that drew ire from several residents in the district.
The tri-fold, full-color, glossy mailer from the school district started off with a letter from Ewert that seemed innocent at first.
“Little Public Schools is a special place where students excel, families thrive, and the community has a long tradition of supporting its schools,” the letter read.
However, it immediately turns to talk of inadequate statewide tax structure and a need for more money. But that’s not what crossed the line for residents like Lori Horn, who received the mailer despite not having students in the district.
“This is a new superintendent,” Horn said. “It was a different kind of letter for families to receive. I was surprised to get it since I don’t currently have kids in public schools here. They paid some money for it. It looked like a fluff piece about nice things going on in the schools, but one-third of it was his letter.” Continue reading
A flyer recently mailed to Littleton Public Schools (LPS) residents asking them to contact their state legislators about an education funding plan cost the district nearly $10,000.
LPS Superintendent Brian Ewert sent out a newsletter earlier this month asking residents to support a possible bill that would remove the hospital provider fee from the general fund and convert it to an enterprise fund – thereby exempting the fee from counting toward the state’s constitutional revenue limit under the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) and potentially opening the door to increased education funding.
The hospital provider fee is a fee charged to hospitals for each bed used by a patient daily. The revenue goes to fund the state’s expansion of Medicaid. By removing it from the general fund, it is predicted it would free up more than $600 million under the TABOR’s revenue cap. That would prevent automatic refunds to Colorado residents and possibly allow for more education funding.
Joint Budget Committee Chairman Kent Lambert-R has called the controversial maneuver a shell game in its effort to skirt TABOR laws.
The tri-fold, full-color, glossy mailer from the school district is Ewert’s first informational flyer since taking over as superintendent this year Continue reading
Colorado business groups are ramping up the debate over the state’s hospital provider fee, warning that if lawmakers don’t change how the state accounts for the money the fee generates, they’ll “almost certainly force” a tax increase to address Colorado’s crumbling roads instead.
The letter was sent to leaders of both chambers of the Legislature on Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to set revenue from the hospital fee aside in a so-called “enterprise fund” that wouldn’t be subject to limitations imposed by the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights.
The letter is mainly directed at Senate Republicans, whose opposition killed a bill on the provider fee in the last session of the Legislature after it had already cleared the Democratic-majority House..
The business groups constitute a crucial support sector for GOP-sponsored legislation. The letter to leadership on the hospital fee is meant to give cover to Republican leaders who are feeling pressure from more conservative elements of the party that want to block the enterprise fund idea — or who want to repeal the fee altogether.
“Republicans are certainly sensitive to the needs of the business community. The Senate Republicans have a track record of fighting for businesses,” said Tony Milo, executive director of the Colorado Contractors Association, one of the organizations backing the request. “We want to point out this is something important to businesses.” Continue reading
Hickenlooper calls for pulling the money from TABOR limits
A $1.2 billion system that provides health care to thousands of Colorado residents is becoming a political and fiscal headache for Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers — one likely to dominate the 2016 legislative session.
The hospital provider fee program is expected to collect more than $750 million in fees in the next budget year and help propel state revenues over the TABOR limits, forcing the state to issue taxpayer refunds and reduce spending in key areas.
The dichotomy is driving the Democratic governor’s push to overhaul the program, despite being rebuffed by lawmakers earlier this year, and renewing questions about how the fee works.
More than usual, the greatest obstacle is politics. The debate represents a confluence of polarizing issues, from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to the expansion of Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
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Article X, Section 20. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
(1) General provisions. This section takes effect December 31, 1992 or as stated. Its preferred interpretation shall reasonably restrain most the growth of government. All provisions are self-executing and severable and supersede conflicting state constitutional, state statutory, charter, or other state or local provisions. Other limits on district revenue, spending, and debt may be weakened only by future voter approval. Individual or class action enforcement suits may be filed and shall have the highest civil priority of resolution. Successful plaintiffs are allowed costs and reasonable attorney fees, but a district is not unless a suit against it be ruled frivolous. Revenue collected, kept, or spent illegally since four full fiscal years before a suit is filed shall be refunded with 10% annual simple interest from the initial conduct. Subject to judicial review, districts may use any reasonable method for refunds under this section, including temporary tax credits or rate reductions. Refunds need not be proportional when prior payments are impractical to identify or return. When annual district revenue is less than annual payments on general obligation bonds, pensions, and final court judgments, (4) (a) and (7) shall be suspended to provide for the deficiency.
(2) Term definitions. Within this section: (a) “Ballot issue” means a non-recall petition or referred measure in an election.
(b) “District” means the state or any local government, excluding enterprises. Continue reading
Budget, elections reforms suggested to improve Colorado
Coalition looks at conflicts from TABOR
By Peter Marcus Herald staff writer
Article Last Updated: Saturday, November 28, 2015 6:02pm
The Building a Better Colorado coalition is seeking to address the ease with which Colorado’s constitution is amended, decreased participation in elections systems and an “imbalance” between citizens’ expectations of government services and the ability to meet desires.
DENVER – A coalition aimed at examining reforms to budget and elections processes in Colorado identified restructuring a hospital fee and strengthening rules governing citizens initiatives as solutions to ease conflicts and challenges facing the state.
The Building a Better Colorado coalition – comprised largely of civic and business leaders – sought to address the ease with which Colorado’s constitution is amended, decreased participation in elections systems and an “imbalance” between citizens’ expectations of government services and the ability to meet desires.
The recommendations could be placed before voters to decide next year.
Critics have labeled the coalition another statewide tour to gather support to raise taxes by eliminating protections under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. Continue reading