Colorado will temporarily lower the income tax rate to 4.5% — a move Gov. Jared Polis is celebrating despite concerns from his party
If we asked readers to give us their honest feedback about Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution, we doubt we’d get any. Who, besides lawmakers or legislative staff, could even hazard a guess as to what issue that part of the Constitution addresses?
But if we asked readers to give us their honest feedback about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, that’s a different story. Even if you didn’t have a firm position on whether it affects the state’s ability to deliver government services, you’d at least be familiar with the general subject matter.
Ballot proposals would move the state back toward a graduated tax
If the fight over Colorado tax policy were a sporting event, half the stadium would be empty.
With the November defeat of Proposition CC, fiscal conservatives have taken the field, and a contest over the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights feels like a foregone conclusion.
But to Democrats and aligned interest groups, policy losses such as tax hikes for schools, roads and higher education just mean they haven’t found the right game plan.
“What I took away from Prop CC was that was not the solution,” said Carol Hedges of the Colorado Fiscal Institute, a liberal tax policy group. “That solution didn’t address the concerns of the folks who voted in that election, and we have an obligation to solve these problems.”
So a month after voters defeated the measure to eliminate the state’s spending cap, Hedges’ organization is playing offense and has introduced an eye-popping 35 tax-related ballot initiatives for 2020. The specifics vary proposal to proposal, but one theme unites them: creating a tax code that requires the wealthy to pay more to fund public services.
Two forecasts for Colorado’s economy cite continued growth in the state, but noted a tight labor market would cause that growth to be muted in the coming years.
The state legislature’s Joint Budget Committee has received forecasts from the Legislative Council Staff and the Office of State Planning and Budget.
The forecasts estimate that taxpayers will see refunds granted by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), as the state collects revenue above the state spending cap.
In a statement, House Democrats said the spending caps “limit the state’s ability to invest in critical priorities, such as education and transportation.”
The Legislative Council staff forecast said the state can expect to see economic activity expand as job growth and rising wages continue.
Voters cast their ballots at downtown Denver’s Bannock Street polling location on Election Day, Nov. 5, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)
The proposed ballot initiatives would move the state back toward a graduated, or progressive, tax system that would mean higher taxes for the wealthy
By a vote of 55% to 45%, you helped defeat Prop CC to remove TABOR spending limits, but they’re at it again.
Anti-TABOR activists are already testing ballot language for a 2020 initiative to unwind your Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. With a high Democratic voter turnout, they see next year’s election as their chance to amend the State Constitution to give government taxing authority without a vote of the people.
The TABOR Foundation educates voters on how the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights protects their livelihood and why it matters to their family’s future.
We give seminars, media interviews, social media updates, and we’re a primary contact for citizens asking for help when their local jurisdictions violate TABOR mandates. Importantly, we engage in legal action to protect TABOR.
Defending freedom costs time – and money. We need more help. What can you do to help us?
Please send your donation of $50, $100, $150 or more. Checks payable to TABOR Foundation, a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, may be tax deductible as allowed by law.
And, we welcome your service with our Board of Directors, Speakers Bureau, or in some other capacity. Please call me to talk about being more involved. Thanks!
Penn R. Pfiffner
720 Kipling St.
Lakewood, CO 80215
In Colorado and Washington, residents this fall voted to either constrain state tax revenues or cut fees, even as Democratic lawmakers argue the money is needed to support education and transportation programs.
Colorado voters during the past two elections have made clear that while they’re willing to back Democratic candidates, they’re reluctant to give them greater taxing power to help carry out their agendas.
That’s even as progressives argue that funding is falling short in areas like education and transportation. Last month, Coloradans kept up the pattern, rejecting a ballot measure that would have relaxed limits on the amount of tax collections that the state government can keep.
Further west, residents in another left-leaning state, Washington, also voted in November to crimp government revenues. Voters approved a ballot initiative to cap the cost of vehicle registration fees, or “car tabs,” which help pay for transit and other transportation programs.
“I think you could say it’s an anti-tax vote, clearly,” said Rep. Jake Fey, a Tacoma-area Democrat who chairs the Washington state House Transportation Committee.
In both places, the election results show how there can be limits to the appetite people have for paying more money for public services and infrastructure—even when a majority of a state’s voters are willing to support Democrats who tend to embrace more progressive platforms, which often involve bigger government.
The measures also highlight the complications and uncertainty that can arise when making tax policy at the ballot box, as well as some unique facets of each state’s tax structure.