Feb 06

Court Order Vacates Appellate Panel

FILED
United States Court of Appeals
PUBLISH Tenth Circuit

October 14, 2020
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
Christopher M. Wolpert
Clerk of Court
FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT
_________________________________
ANDY KERR, Colorado State
Representative; NORMA V. ANDERSON;
JANE M. BARNES, member Jefferson
County Board of Education; ELAINE GANTZ BERMAN, member State Board of Education; ALEXANDER E. BRACKEN; WILLIAM K. BREGAR, member Pueblo District 70 Board of
Education; BOB BRIGGS, Westminster No. 17-1192
City Councilman; BRUCE W. (D.C. No. 1:11-CV-01350-RM-NYW)
BRODERIUS, member Weld County (D. Colo.)
District 6 Board of Education; TRUDY B.
BROWN; JOHN C. BUECHNER, Ph.D.,
Lafayette City Councilman; STEPHEN A.
BURKHOLDER; RICHARD L. BYYNY,
M.D.; LOIS COURT, Colorado State
Representative; THERESA L. CRATER;
ROBIN CROSSAN, member Steamboat
Springs RE-2 Board of Education;
RICHARD E. FERDINANDSEN;
STEPHANIE GARCIA, member Pueblo
City Board of Education; KRISTI
HARGROVE; DICKEY LEE
HULLINGHORST, Colorado State
Representative; NANCY JACKSON,
Arapahoe County Commissioner; CLAIRE
LEVY, Colorado State Representative;
MARGARET MARKERT, Aurora City
Councilwoman, AKA Molly Markert; MEGAN J. MASTEN; MICHAEL MERRIFIELD; MARCELLA L.
MORRISON, AKA Marcy L. Morrison;
JOHN P. MORSE, Colorado State Senator;
PAT NOONAN; BEN PEARLMAN,
Boulder County Commissioner;
Continue reading

Feb 04

Colorado taxpayers will be asked for more…

Colorado taxpayers will be asked for more…

As tax season is upon us, there are several considerations worth examining about how Colorado is doing. Colorado, like most states, faces fiscal challenges arising from COVID and the lockdowns. Colorado has one of the most expensive states for real estate and the recent Gallagher vote could result in higher residential property tax burdens for Coloradans in the years to come. The Colorado state pension system (PERA) has one of the worst funding ratios in the nation, suggesting PERA funding shortfalls will present problems for Colorado taxpayers and PERA beneficiaries in the years to come. Further, a low funding ratio could result in credit rating downgrades leading to higher borrowing costs for the state. Colorado has about 25% of the population on Medicaid. This could present significant challenges for the Colorado taxpayers in years to come. There will be calls for more taxes and fees to meet the desires of the Colorado legislature.

Here are several sites for referencing how Colorado fiscally compares to the nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 24

Opinion: Politicians’ challenge to Colorado’s TABOR is without merit

For almost three decades, TABOR has been a godsend for Colorado taxpayers.

2:55 AM MST on Jan 24, 2021

Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is under attack once again, this time by the very politicians whose actions TABOR is intended to check.

A lawsuit filed by state legislators and some local elected officials has been wending its way through the federal courts since 2011. They seek to overturn the voter-enacted TABOR amendment to the Colorado constitution, which requires voter approval before state and local legislative bodies can impose or raise taxes.

The lawmakers’ case rests on the dubious idea that by denying legislators a free hand on matters of taxing and spending, TABOR denies Coloradans a republican form of government, in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a specious, self-serving argument that ignores more than a century of case law and practical political experience with voter initiatives and referendums, in Colorado and elsewhere.

The case will now be heard by the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, although it seems likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually get the final word.

It’s a complicated case involving questions of standing — who has the right to bring a case to court — and whether constitutional guarantees of a republican form of government include the actions of political subdivisions such as school boards.

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

Dec 07

Can voters ignore the state constitution when passing an initiative?

The Other Arizona Election Challenge

Can voters ignore the state constitution when passing an initiative?

By  The Editorial Board

Dec. 6, 2020 5:43 pm ET

Voters wait in line at the Surprise Court House polling location in Surprise, Arizona, Nov. 3.

PHOTO: CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

 

The outcome of the presidential race isn’t the only election result being contested in Arizona, and the other has even greater consequences for the law. Last week two lawsuits were filed against Proposition 208, the ballot initiative that imposes a new 3.5% tax surcharge to raise an estimated $827 million for education. It passed with 51.7% of the vote.

The suits are challenging whether Prop 208, which passed as a statute, must conform to the state constitution. One suit was filed by businesswoman Ann Siner and retired judge John Buttrick, the other by the Goldwater Institute, the influential Arizona think tank.

The suits claim that Prop 208 contradicts a constitutional amendment that limits the amount of revenue provided to school districts each year. It also overrides another constitutional provision requiring a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to approve a tax increase.

The Legislative Council, a nonpartisan legislative office that reviews bills and ballot measures for form and constitutionality, held that Prop 208’s language exempting the money it raises from an existing cap on education spending “is likely invalid” because it violates express constitutional limits. Supporters went ahead anyway. The state Supreme Court declined to rule on claims that Prop 208 unconstitutionally curtails the Legislature’s authority but said it couldn’t consider the issue until it passed.

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

May 28

From An Editorial On May 5, 2019: State Could Go Off A Fiscal Cliff

State could go off a fiscal cliff

By: Barry W Poulson
May 5, 2019

Colorado has created a fiscal cliff; the state is woefully unprepared for the revenue shortfall that will accompany the next recession. Citizens might be surprised to learn that the state has been pursuing imprudent policies that will result in a fiscal crisis when the next recession hits. It is important to understand how the fiscal cliff was created and what we can do about it.

Over the past two decades, Colorado has weakened the fiscal constraints imposed by the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights. TABOR limits the rate of growth in state spending to the sum of inflation plus population growth, regardless of the amount of revenue the state takes in.

But most state revenue is exempt from the TABOR limit. The exempt funds include the revenue from enterprises and the fees collected by government agencies, which have grown rapidly over this period. As a result, over the past decade TABOR has not constrained the growth in spending, and this year the state will spend virtually every dollar of revenue it takes in.

The fiscal cliff is also linked to a rapid growth in debt and unfunded liabilities. While limits are imposed on general obligation debt, there are no limits on the issuance of revenue bonds. These are bonds with a dedicated stream of revenue used to pay off the bonds over time. As state enterprises have grown they have saddled the state with greater debt burdens.

Increasing debt is also incurred in the form of unfunded liabilities. Despite the recent reforms enacted in the Public Employees Retirement Association, unfunded liabilities continue to increase. The official estimate of these unfunded liabilities is $32 billion; but with realistic assumptions regarding rates returns on assets, the actual unfunded liabilities are estimated to be in excess of $100 billion. Continue reading

May 26

TABOR and COVID 19: We’re All Gonna Pay

TABOR and COVID 19: We’re all gonna pay

Blog post by Christine Burtt
5/26/2020 – 4 minute read

Let’s face it.  You can’t shut down the economy, borrow trillions of dollars to subsidize households and businesses, and cause massive unemployment in the private sector without getting seriously upside down in tax revenues.

The Colorado state budget will be about $3.3B in the hole for FY2021, and that doesn’t include deficits in county and special district budgets.

If Legislatures over the years had honored the requirement of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to stash away an emergency fund, we’d have roughly $1B in cash right now.  Instead of a lockbox of cash, illiquid government buildings were determined to be assets counted toward the emergency fund. Anybody have cash to buy a government building?  But I digress….

In the Democrat-controlled Colorado Legislature, raising taxes is the easy answer to a budget shortfall. The short-term exercise is to reconcile what is “essential” vs “nice to have.”

In reality, government mandated services like administering food stamps, running elections, law enforcement, infrastructure, and paying public employee retirement benefits will be protected. But other programs funded for ideological wish-lists may be delayed – until they can raise taxes.

The most likely ways to raise taxes include: Continue reading

May 18

TABOR repeal is off the table for 2020. Now it’s Initiative 271, a $2 billion tax hike

TABOR repeal is off the table for 2020. Now it’s Initiative 271, a $2 billion tax hike targeting the wealthy

Vision 2020 Colorado, a coalition behind a tax system overhaul, tells The Sun it will move forward with a graduated income tax measure that will lower taxes for the vast majority

coalition pushing to overhaul Colorado’s tax system will not pursue a complete repeal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights this year, opting instead for a ballot measure in November that would generate billions in new money with higher taxes on the wealthy.

The new initiative — which is expected to receive final legal approval Wednesday — is designed to create a more equitable tax system in Colorado by lowering the current 4.63% tax rate for households making less than $250,000 a year.

MORE: Colorado’s regressive tax system, and a proposed graduated income tax, explained

An estimated 95% of taxpayers who are below the threshold would qualify for the tax cut, which would take effect for 2021. For those who make more than $250,000, the additional earnings are taxed at a higher rate up to the maximum of 8.9% for annual taxable income over $1 million.

The organizations behind the ballot question, known collectively as Vision 2020 Colorado, expect the new graduated income tax to generate an estimated $2 billion a year in new money with at least half earmarked to increase teacher salaries and retention. The remainder would be spent at the discretion of state lawmakers.

“We know middle-income Coloradans are paying a greater share of the tax burden than the wealthy 5%, but our tax code isn’t just unfair, it’s inadequate,” said Scott Wasserman, president of the Bell Policy Center, a leading proponent of the measure. The tough decisions made by state lawmakers about how to spend the $30 billion annual budget, he added, are “a purely consequence of our state not having enough money.”

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