Apr 17

Hickenlooper asks for budgetary move to ensure Colorado roads funding

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Thursday asked leaders in the Legislature to back a plan that would ensure years of increased funding for transportation and K-12 education in exchange for lowering the amounts of refunds going back to Colorado residents under the state constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

In a letter, Hickenlooper endorsed a five-point plan that involves removing the six-year-old hospital provider fee and the nearly $600 million in revenues it brings in annually from the general-fund portion of the budget, a move that would reduce revenue that is considered to be under the state’s TABOR cap.

Bringing that revenue below cap levels would trigger full transfers of transportation funding — more than $200 million a year for the next four years — under a complex 2009 bill that tied that funding to personal-income growth and the amount the state budget could stay under the TABOR cap.

Business leaders have pushed the idea of relocating the hospital provider fee for months in an effort to get desperately needed money for the state’s aging and overcrowded roads, which have not received general-fund repair money since the 2007-08 fiscal year.

The move would not affect the amount of money generated for hospitals. Continue reading

Apr 07

Larimer County debates Scientific and cultural facilities district tax

LOVELAND, Colo. – Leaders in Larimer County are considering another attempt to put a scientific and cultural facilities district tax proposal on the general election ballot in 2016.

Bruce Freestone, who founded OpenStage Theatre Co. in Fort Collins with his wife Denise in 1973, is pushing cities to again consider the tax measure. He and Susan Ison, cultural services director for the city of Loveland, are inviting community members from northern Colorado to a meeting on Monday.

The Loveland Reporter-Herald reports organizers could seek voter approval in the 2016 election to create a taxing district to collect a 0.1 percent sales tax for cultural facility operations and maintenance in Larimer County.



Apr 07

The Glitch in Colorado’s Weed Experiment

The Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

The Glitch in Colorado’s Weed Experiment


boulder marijuana shop

A marijuana dispensary in Boulder, Colo. Credit Matthew Staver for The New York Times

After Colorado voters legalized marijuana, they also approved heavily taxing it and using the money for school construction, law enforcement, drug education and other useful things. The arrangement made perfect sense.

But now the 15-month-old experiment has entered a phase that makes no sense at all. It’s the prospect that all this new marijuana revenue — an estimated $58 million in the current fiscal year — may have to be returned to the voters, because of a provision in the state’s Constitution that rigidly constrains taxes and spending. The provision is the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or Tabor, a complex set of rules that requires, among other things, voter approval of all new taxes and automatic refunds if tax revenues or spending exceed estimates given when tax questions are put to the voters.

As an April 1 report in The Times explained, Colorado’s tax revenues have recently surged, thanks in part to the booming construction, oil and gas industries, in addition to some $58 million from the marijuana taxes. But not only revenues but overall state spending this year are expected to end up higher than the state estimated back when the marijuana tax was on the ballot. Under Tabor — which some in Colorado have likened to a fiscal straitjacket or a statutory version of the crazed space computer HAL 9000 — the state is therefore required to refund the marijuana money. Continue reading

Apr 07

West Slope lawmakers talk TABOR, water at Club 20

West Slope lawmakers talk TABOR, water at Club 20

Thurlow chimes in on effort to recall him: ‘That’s their right’


By Ron Bain


GRAND JUNCTION — A panel of seven Western Slope legislators — six Republicans and one Democrat — discussed diverse issues they’re working on in the state legislature at the Club 20 annual meeting on March 28, focusing on water, energy, the economy, TABOR and federal lands.

Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, said he and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, had introduced a bill, SB 15-232, that would create a Federal Land Management Commission to study the transfer of federally managed public lands to Colorado. But that doesn’t mean the lands would be sold to the highest bidder, he added.

“I know there’s a lot of people running around with their hair on fire, afraid that we’re going to sell the lands, but that’s not what the bill is all about,” Baumgardner said.

Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, who also attended the panel discussion, is the House sponsor for the land transfer study bill.

During a discussion of conflicting constitutional amendments, Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, confessed that the state legislature has been making end runs around the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

“We did not follow the Constitution,” Roberts said. “We made up something called the ‘negative factor’. There are budgetary tricks.”

Amendment 23, which mandates yearly increases in K-12 education funding, is in conflict with TABOR, which restricts the growth of government revenues, a dilemma that several of the legislators complained about. Club 20 member Chris Treese asked the panel to discuss that conflict.

Sen. Kerry Donovan, D-Aspen, said she was extremely frustrated by TABOR. Continue reading

Apr 07

Thanks for TABOR

T-C Line: Thanks for TABOR

POSTED:   04/03/2015 07:09:03 PM MDT

Balanced budget is good

Thank goodness for the TABOR law. Can you imagine living in Colorado and having a $3 to $5 billion debt? Twenty-five cents of every tax dollar goes to pay the debt, the money you borrowed to build something with, unreal. Smarten up, people. A balanced budget is a good way. Just look at the federal government.


Apr 01

Colorado Lawmakers Scramble to Keep Millions in Marijuana Taxes

Robert Grandt worked in the grow room at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver last month. Hefty taxes on recreational marijuana have generated millions in state revenue. Credit RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

A year after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational marijuana sales, millions of tax dollars are rolling in, dedicated to funding school construction, marijuana education campaigns and armies of marijuana inspectors and regulators. But a legal snarl may force the state to hand that money back to marijuana consumers, growers and the public — and lawmakers do not want to.

The problem is a strict anti-spending provision in the state Constitution that touches every corner of public life, like school funding, state health care, local libraries and road repairs. Technical tripwires in that voter-approved provision, known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, may require Colorado to refund nearly $60 million in marijuana taxes.

Continue reading