Will You Make A Difference?

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Dear TABOR supporter,

You may be the right person to make a difference in your town.  You can help to protect the citizens of Colorado by protecting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, but without taking a lot of your time and at no expense to you.

Much of the work of the TABOR Foundation includes taking legal action against taxation without a vote of the people.

But most of our efforts are directed toward educating voters about why the right to vote on the taxes that you and your neighbors pay is a good idea – as well as calling attention to the all-too-common attempts to eviscerate TABOR.

You can help!

We are recruiting TABOR supporters to be a part of our volunteer Communications Team.

The job is simple but very important. Continue reading

Raison d’être

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The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Foundation is a resource to educate and inform how TABOR protects Colorado taxpayers from runaway government spending.

Anything posted on this site is not an endorsement of any political cause, party, or group.

Jul 24

2021 Colorado legislature’s new taxes bypass TABOR

2021 Colorado legislature’s new taxes bypass TABOR by Kevin Lundberg

 

Taxes and TABOR

As a part of my deeper dive into the 2021 bills that are now law, this week’s bills affecting taxes and TABOR are examined. In general, the bills which passed this year increased taxes and established new enterprises without calling for any constitutionally required votes from the people of Colorado.

This is far too predictable for the majority party. They use every trick in their playbook to wiggle around the clear intent of TABOR to require the people to vote on these significant new burdens on all citizens of Colorado.

However, there was one small bright spot I found.  SB-227 created the State Emergency Reserve Cash Fund, finally putting actual cash into the TABOR-required emergency fund. Since TABOR was created, nearly thirty years ago, the TABOR emergency reserve has been essentially ignored. Instead of actually setting aside cash as a reserve the legislature creatively designated assets, such as buildings as the “reserve” for emergencies. Finally, in this year, when the state coffers are full of federal debt dollars, they found some money to actually make a viable fund.

But the rest of the laws headed in the opposite direction Continue reading

Jul 04

Colorado Ranked No. 20 for its Fiscal Health

A new accounting report shows that Colorado did not go into the coronavirus pandemic in good fiscal shape, and it likely came out of the crisis even worse.

Truth in Accounting is an organization that was founded in 2002 by CPAs to “compel governments to produce financial reports that are understandable, reliable, transparent, and correct.” It is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization headquartered in Chicago. One of their reports, The Morning Call recently published a financial analysis of all 50 states. Their analysis included the following key facts regarding Colorado’s financial health.

Colorado is ranked 20 th of all 50 states for financial health.

Colorado owes more than it owns.

Colorado’s taxpayer burden is -$2,600, and it received a  “C” from TIA for financial management.

The taxpayer burden measurement incorporates both assets and liabilities, not just pension debt.

Colorado is a “sinkhole” state without enough assets to cover its debt.

Colorado only has $14.9 billion of assets available to pay bills totaling $20.3 billion.

Because Colorado doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills, it has a $5.4 billion  financial hole. To fill it, each Colorado taxpayer would have to send $2,600 to the state.

The state’s financial report was released 205 days after its fiscal year-end, which is considered untimely according to the  180 day standard.

Colorado legislators have been attempting to circumnavigate taxpayer restraints established by TABOR, The Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, a constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters in 1992.

#ItsYourMoneyNotTheirs
#ThankGodForTABOR
#VoteOnTaxesAndFees
#TABOR
#FollowTheMoney
#FollowTheLaw

The full report can be found here:

https://www.data-z.org/state_data_and_comparisons/detail/colorado

 

 

Jun 19

Colorado’s economy has recovered so quickly that the legislature will have to refund taxpayers under TABOR

While state coffers have recovered and employment is increasing, low-income, Black and Hispanic workers still lag in job recovery

Jesse Paul and Thy Vo

11:12 AM MDT on Jun 18, 2021

The Colorado Capitol is seen on Monday, June 7, 2021, during the final days of the 2021 legislative session. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

 

Colorado taxpayers will be refunded as much as $2.8 billion in tax revenue collected over the three fiscal years because the state’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis has been so swift and strong and because of growth limits under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

That’s according to two tax-revenue forecasts — one from nonpartisan legislative staffers and another from Gov. Jared Polis’ office —  presented to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee on Friday.

The state’s TABOR cap is calculated through population growth and inflation. When the cap is exceeded, the legislature is required to refund the excess, most often through a future tax break, such as an income tax reduction. Lawmakers can seek voter approval to retain the revenue as well, but that appears unlikely to happen in the near future.

Nonpartisan fiscal analysts and the governor’s office forecast that the cap will be exceeded in the current fiscal year, the 2021-22 fiscal year, which begins in July, and the 2022-23 fiscal year, which begins in July 2022.

“The past quarter’s growth has been truly remarkable and unexpected,” Lauren Larson, director of the Governor’s Office of State Budgeting and Planning, told the JBC.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Jun 17

The Past Present and Future of TABOR featuring Michael Fields and Dustin Zvonek

On this edition of Common Sense Digest, we take a deep dive into a major law unique to Colorado, and why it is relevant today, nearly three decades after being voted in by Coloradans in 1992. That’s right, we’re discussing the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, commonly referred to as TABOR.

In recent years, we have seen direct attempts through our state’s ballot process to strike TABOR entirely. At present, TABOR is being challenged from multiple angles and our Host and Chairman Earl Wright welcomes two guests to discuss why TABOR matters, what makes it unique, and what challenges lie ahead for it.

Joining Earl is, first, Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action, a 501(c)(4) that fights “for limited government, lowering taxes, fighting government over-regulation that stifles freedom, affordable and accessible health care, free enterprise, and a strong national security.” Also joining is Dustin Zvonek, current candidate for Aurora City Council, a small business owner, former congressional and legislative aide, current member of the Aurora Citizens Advisory Budget Committee, and alumnus of Common Sense Institute.

Thank you for listening to Common Sense Digest.

Jun 16

Town of Estes Park loses its case to reclaim legal fees in TABOR lawsuit

Larimer County District Court Judge Juan Villaseñor rejected the Town of Estes Park’s claim it was due to be repaid legal fees for a failed case brought against the town by three residents. The ruling came down on Friday, June 11.

Todd A. Jirsa, William G. Van Horn and Richard K. Grigsby filed suit against the Town of Estes Park on December 3, 2020, claiming the Town “violated (and is continuing to violate) the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” also known as TABOR.”

The suit — which was dismissed on April 1 — alleged that the town violated TABOR after it spent millions of dollars in taxpayer money on the Downtown Estes Loop Project without ever holding a public vote.

A judge found that not to be the case, ruling none of the funds spent by the town on the Loop were taxpayer’s dollars, meaning there could be no violation of TABOR

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Jun 16

Public Statement On The Hospital Provider Case

On Monday, June 14, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to consider the appeal of case brought by the TABOR Foundation, et. al. to stop the blatantly unconstitutional Hospital Provider tax and program.  That means the ruling of the lower Court of Appeals is the final say.

The original filing in June 2015 addressed the issue that the new bed tax was required to have voter approval under TABOR, but that the legislature had violated the citizen right.  Then in a related development, in 2017 state senator Jerry Sonnenberg revived the dormant senate bill 267 in the last few days of the session, enacting a host of terrible new laws, violating the single-subject rule and among many other bad ideas, opening $400 million/year in new taxation and spending without a TABOR vote.  Our case was amended (twice) to incorporate that abomination and we added many items to our request for remedy.

The trial court judge sat on the case for two years, not even scheduling a hearing.  Then he ruled against the citizens.  We appealed his decision.  The appeals panel found that no one had standing to sue, so prohibited the case from moving forward on the merits.  “It was as if the judges did not bother to read the written arguments or to care about the substance of the amended lawsuit,” said TABOR Committee chairman Penn Pfiffner.  “Their decision ignored all issues brought forward except for the imposition of the bed tax.  It was so insufficient, so lacking, as to be amateurish.  Unfortunately, the Colorado Supreme Court went along with the foolishness.”

Beyond adding up $400 million each year in new taxation and spending without the required vote of the people, it put the State into debt by $2 billion, which should also have required separate voter approval.  Imagine – taxpayers spend $400 million more each year and they don’t have standing!  The Court appears to have dropped any attempt to be true to the constitution and to respect that citizens are (supposed to be) in charge of their governments.

Jun 15

Colorado Supreme Court Rules On The Hospital Provider SB-267 Appeal

As the Colorado Supreme Court will not take up the appeal of the case, then the ruling of the lower Court of Appeals is the final say.  That panel found that the TABOR Foundation did not have standing and could not continue the case on the merits.  Imagine, taxpayers spend $400 million more each year and they don’t have standing!  The Court appears to have dropped any attempt to be true to the Colorado constitution and to respect that citizens are (supposed to be) in charge of their governments.

Order of Court–pet. for Cert.–tabor Found. v. Colorado by The Forum on Scribd

Jun 03

Lawmakers looking at end run around ballot question on property tax cut

A bill proposed in the waning days of the General Assembly would rewrite how property taxes are classified, but more directly could work around a question about lowering property taxes on the November ballot.

Colorado Politics obtained a draft of the bill to be introduced late Wednesday by Sen. Chris Hansen, a Denver Democrat, and Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, to turn the two property tax classifications, commercial and residential, into five or perhaps six divisions.

In the House, the bill’s prime sponsor is Majority Leader Daneya Esgar of Pueblo.

To read the rest of this story, please click (HERE):

 

Jun 03

Interrogatory On House Bill 21-1164 TABOR Public School Finance Act

On May 24, 2021, the Colorado Supreme Court continued its crusade against the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. It allowed the General Assembly, yet again, to maneuver around TABOR’s constitutional restrictions and effectively raise taxes without getting the required voter approval. The procedure used by the General Assembly was the unusual one of submitting Interrogatories to the Supreme Court, which ask whether their proposed scheme is allowed, prior to passing the law.

At issue were the mill levy rates in 174 separate school districts. The voters in all of these districts had, with varying language and circumstances, voted to exempt their districts from the necessity of returning excess revenues to their taxpayers.  The districts were then impacted by the Colorado Department of Education’s determination that, in order to prevent revenues from increasing, they had to lower their mill levies as property values increased, and therefore, property tax revenues increased.

The legislature proposed, and now has passed, a complex plan to eliminate tax credits, which it created just last year, gradually over the course of the next 19 years. Of course, the State imposition of higher mill levies and its elimination of tax credits will raise taxes. Given the increase in Colorado property values, the increases will be significant.

The TABOR Foundation, filed a friend of the court (“amicus”) brief, written by attorney Rebecca Sopkin.  The TABOR Foundation’s participation gave you a voice in this matter.  The filing protested this clear evasion of the requirement that voters approve any increases in their taxes.

Justice Brian Boatwright, in a well written dissent, pointed out that taxpayers “will see an increase in their mill levy rates as a result of” the proposed legislation, HB1164. He then noted that “[t]he voters today did not approve of this, and neither did the voters in the late 1990s.”  The court majority, however, disregarded the obvious impact of this legislation and gave its tax increases the green light.

Colorad Supreme Cout Opinion by The Forum on Scribd

May 21

Colorado Democrats want to use one of TABOR’s most effective tax-halting mechanisms for themselves

House Bill 1321 comes as progressives have all but given up on doing away with TABOR, the 1992 constitutional amendment that has served as a third rail in Colorado politics ever since its passage

One of the most effective parts of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights when it comes to stopping tax-raising ballot questions in Colorado is a requirement that voters be informed, IN CAPITAL LETTERS, about the eye-popping sum they are deciding whether to allow the government to collect.

“SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED $766,700,000 ANNUALLY FOR A TWENTY-YEAR PERIOD?” Proposition 110, which was focused on raising money for transportation projects, scream-asked voters in 2018. (It failed.)

Now, Democrats are trying to adapt that potent TABOR transparency tool for their own purposes.

House Bill 1321, a measure introduced at the Capitol this week, would require voters to be informed of which programs would be affected by ballot questions decreasing taxes.

The legislation would require the following language be attached to tax-reducing ballot measures: “Shall funding available for state services that include, but are not limited to, (the three largest areas of program expenditures) be impacted by a reduction of (projected dollar figure of revenue reduction to the state in the first full fiscal year that the measure reduces revenue) in tax revenue…?”

The bill would also mandate that ballots containing tax questions highlight how many people in which tax brackets would be most affected by tax hikes or decreases, and require that ballot titles for tax increases state that the aim is to “increase or improve levels of public services” and then list those services.

“It’s an attempt to provide more information and level the playing field,” said Carol Hedges, who leads the liberal-leaning Colorado Fiscal Institute, which supports the measure. “Currently, the all-caps language focuses people’s attention only on the size of state government. We know that the size of state government is not the only factor people should be considering.”

Scott Wasserman, who leads the Bell Policy Center, a liberal advocacy organization, called the measure “a great idea” that seeks to offset what he sees as the manipulative aspects of TABOR.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):