May 10

Colorado roads debate still hanging with session ending

Colorado roads debate still hanging with session ending

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May 07

Colorado’s hospital provider charge: A tax masquerading as a fee

(Editor’s note: This synopsis is excerpted from an Independence Institute Issue Paper on the Hospital Provider Fee Cash Fund, which can be found here:  https://www.i2i.org/the-hospital-provider-fee-fund/)

What is the Hospital Provider Fee?

In 2009, the Colorado General Assembly passed the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act of 2009, HB 09-1293, which imposed an up to 5.5 percent charge on hospital bills. It created the Hospital Provider Fee Cash Fund and the Hospital Provider Fee Oversight and Advisory Board within the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF). Funds raised by the provider charge are deposited in the Cash Fund and do not revert to the General Fund. Payments made to hospitals by the Cash Fund are supplemental payments over and above Medicaid reimbursements made to hospitals for services rendered. The Act stipulates that “a hospital shall not include any amount of the provider fee as a separate line item in its billing statements.”

The provider fee raises revenue for the state

In FY 2014-15 provider charges collected $688 million. The revenue comes from payments of the charge and increases in federal Medicaid matching funds. Suppose a day in the hospital costs $1,000. If the federal match is 50 percent, Colorado Medicaid pays the hospital $1,000 and receives $500 from the federal government. Its net cost is $500. Continue reading

May 05

Court of Appeals sides with Landmark HOA

Court of Appeals sides with Landmark HOA | The Villager News Online

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May 05

TABOR talk will focus on K12 funding

TABOR talk will focus on K12 funding – Telluride Daily Planet: News

The state of Colorado ranks 47th nationwide in K12 funding and, according to a recent Colorado Fiscal Institute study, spends more than $2,000 less per student than the national average.

According to education advocates, those less-than-stellar numbers are thanks in part to restrictions placed on schools by TABOR, the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a significant but little-understood amendment to the state constitution in place since 1992.

 Several local groups will educate parents and taxpayers about TABOR and other K12 funding issues at an event Friday with a representative from the Colorado Fiscal Institute. The event is 1:30-3 p.m. at the Wilkinson Public Library and is presented by Bright Futures and WeR-1 (the Telluride Education Foundation).

“TABOR is having a significant negative impact on K12 funding, and it’s time to act on it in order for our schools to be fully funded,” said Kathleen Merritt, the executive director of Bright Futures, a Telluride-based nonprofit that supports children from birth through third grade. “It would behoove everyone to be informed about what TABOR is, why it came about and the impact it’s having.”

 

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Apr 30

Colorado Springs politician once again bucks Republicans

Colorado Springs politician once again bucks Republicans

By: Megan Schrader •
April 29, 2016• Updated: April 29, 2016 at 6:10 pm

Kit RoupeDENVER – State Rep. Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, was one of five Republicans to vote for a bill Friday that would allow the state to retain millions of dollars that otherwise would have to be returned to voters under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

House Bill 1420 passed 39-26 on Friday and is headed to the Senate, where its success depends on what committee it is assigned to by Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs.

The bill removes from the general fund revenue generated by a fee charged on hospital stays so that money no longer counts toward the TABOR threshold (the point where revenue has grown too fast and money must be returned to taxpayers). The hospital provider fee revenue would instead go to a separate enterprise fund, where it is exempt from TABOR and outside the purview of lawmakers.

“I began considering the switch of my vote when I learned that it really wasn’t a bed tax, per se, and that over the course of the last several years we’ve actually taken money that was not ours out of hospital provider fee to pay for balancing the state budget,” Roupe said.

The hospital provider fee was established by lawmakers in 2009 to help pay for the expansion of Medicaid in Colorado. The money is collected from hospitals, matched by the federal government then returned to hospitals based on which facilities treat the most Medicaid patients.

Republicans hammered Democrats on Thursday – when the bill was heard the first time – over the growing cost of Medicaid and the decision to implement the fee. At the time, several Republicans, including then-Attorney General John Suthers, warned the fee should go into an enterprise fund instead of the general fund.

Now Democrats agree, saying having the growing fee’s revenue in the general fund will crush the state’s ability to provide money for transportation infrastructure and education. House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, estimated it could cost state services $1 billion by 2020. Hullinghorst’s HB 1420 and companion House Bill 1450 recommend retaining that money by forgoing TABOR refunds and using the funds on prioritized projects. Continue reading

Apr 30

In Colorado, School Funding Lags Despite A Booming Economy

In Colorado, School Funding Lags Despite A Booming Economy

 
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Audio: CPR’s Jenny Brundin Reports On School Funding

Douglas Bruce, a driving force behind the Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights, celebrates the amendment’s passing in November 1992. Critics say it now limits how much money is spent on education in Colorado.

(Courtesy Denver Public Library, Rocky Mountain News archives / Jay Koelzer)

This story is part of the NPR reporting project “School Money,” a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students. Colorado’s economy is hot. The unemployment rate is 3 percent. And shiny new skyscrapers are rising all over Denver as revelers pour fistfuls of cash into downtown bars and restaurants.

But no one invited Colorado’s public schools to the party.

“They have outdated technology, larger class sizes. They’ve lost the opportunity to offer certain programs. They can’t retain teachers. They can’t attract teachers,” says Tracie Rainey with the Colorado School Finance Project, a nonprofit research group.  “They’ve had fewer school days, furlough days, all sorts of maintenance issues.”

The list goes on. Many educators and parents had hoped that, as Colorado’s economy roared back from the Great Recession, the nearly $5 billion that lawmakers had cut from the state’s public schools would come back with it.

They were wrong.

“I was told that an improved economy would mean cuts would continue,” says Shannon Bird. The concerned mother of two school-age children lives north of Denver and has made several trips to the state Capitol to lobby for more funding. “Lawmakers told me their hands are tied.”

How is it that the nation’s 14th richest state ranks 42nd in how much it spends per student? Especially in a year that taxpayers can expect rebate checks from the state totaling $156 million?

Most Restrictive In The Country

The simple answer is, that’s what voters wanted. In 1992, they amended the state’s constitution with something called the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

 

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Apr 30

Republicans join Democrats to change hospital provider fee

Republicans join Democrats to change hospital provider fee

Brown, Coram join Democrats

Reps. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio and Don Coram of Montrose joined majority Democrats to support the bill, which passed 39-26. Three other Republicans also supported it.

A second companion bill directs where the anticipated savings – expected to be about $730 million next year – would go.

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