Sep 13

Opinion: Chuck Wibby: Kill the fee in wolf’s clothing

By Chuck Wibby

In 1992, Colorado voters passed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. The amendment to the Colorado Constitution is widely despised by elected officials at every level of government. It is also widely loved by the majority of taxpaying citizens who pay the bills to employ those same elected officials.

Among its other provisions, TABOR contained an exemption for fee-based services that the government provides to citizens. It was a logical concession. After all, if the city wanted to operate a parking lot, it would be impractical to have a vote every time the city wanted to increase the cost to park your car in their lot.

TABOR’s intent was that “government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge” are “paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services.” This is in contrast to “government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue.” Letting no good deed go unpunished, it didn’t take the state too long to figure out how to take advantage of TABOR’s allowance for fee-based enterprises.

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

Aug 31

Here Are The 11 Ballot Measures Colorado Will Vote On This Year, From Taxes To Raffles

By Andrew Kenney

August 28, 2020
Primary Day Voting Ballot Drop Off DenverHart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver Elections Division’s drive through ballot-drop-off station on Bannock Street on Primary Election Day June 30, 2020.

Colorado voters this November will make decisions on nearly a dozen proposed changes to the state’s laws and constitution. It’s one of the longest statewide ballots in recent history, with three measures referred by state lawmakers, seven proposals from citizen groups and one effort to repeal a recently-passed state law.

The decisions voters make on these questions will affect Colorado’s tax rates, government budgets, ecology and more. Many of these measures are supported and opposed by a range of organizations. CPR News is including those listed on the Secretary of State’s website or who are actively campaigning.

New Laws

Proposition 113 – Adopt Agreement To Elect U.S. Presidents By National Popular Vote

Colorado voters can choose to affirm or reject the legislature’s 2019 decision to join the National Popular Vote Compact. The Democratic-backed law could eventually bind Colorado and other states to commit their presidential election votes to the candidate who wins the most votes nationally, rather than the candidate who wins the state.

Proposition 114 – Restoration of Gray Wolves

The Question: Should Colorado reintroduce gray wolves on certain lands west of the Continental Divide? If approved, it could help an endangered species recover its place in Colorado’s ecology, but the measure faces criticism from ranchers who fear they’ll lose livestock to the predators. Read more from CPRRead the initiative text.

To continue reading and learn about the 9 other ballot questions, please click (HERE):

Aug 28

Colorado ballot initiative to require voter approval of certain new state enterprises qualifies for November ballot

By Jackie Mitchell

In November, Coloradans will vote on whether or not to require statewide voter approval of new state enterprises if the enterprise’s projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within its first five years.

To qualify for the ballot, proponents needed to submit 124,632 valid signatures. Of the 196,090 signatures submitted by proponents on July 31, 2020, 138,852 were projected to be valid based on a random sample.

Enterprises were established through the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment of 1992. Enterprises are government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge that is paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services. Examples of enterprises include the state lottery, state nursing homes, correctional industries, parks and wildlife, public colleges and universities, and the state unemployment insurance program. This is in contrast to government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue. Enterprises may receive a maximum of 10% of their annual revenue from state and local government sources but are otherwise financially independent from the state government and any local governments. Enterprise revenue does not count toward the TABOR limit. TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. It limits the annual increase for some state revenue to inflation plus the percentage change in state population. Any money collected above this limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

In the fiscal year 1993-94, the first year TABOR was in effect, enterprise revenue was $724.3 million. In 2017-18, state enterprises received $17.9 billion in revenue. In total, from 1993 to 2018, Colorado enterprises have received $150.17 billion in revenue.

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

Aug 26

‘Vote on Fees’ measure makes November ballot

FILE - Coloradans vote on TABOR in 2005
A voter exits the voting booth at the Denver Election Commission office in Denver, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005.

(The Center Square) – An initiative to require voter approval of some state enterprises that draw their revenue from fees has been approved for the November ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Monday.  

Colorado Rising State Action, the conservative advocacy group backing the Initiative 295turned in more than 196,000 signatures in July, with 138,852 of those signatures being valid, the office said. The measure needed 124,632 valid signatures to make the ballot.

Taxpayer advocacy groups argue that lawmakers have used fees to avoid being subject to the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), a constitutional amendment that requires all tax increase be approved by voters. Under TABOR, state enterprise funds aren’t subject to TABOR’s revenue cap.

“It’s official, Coloradans will get to vote on strengthening TABOR this November,” Colorado Rising State Action Executive Director Michael Fields said in a statement. “State lawmakers have abused enterprise fees for years as a method to increase revenue and get around asking voters. It’s really simple, voters just want to be asked.”

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

Will You Make A Difference?

Featured

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

Jul 31

Initiative to implement progressive state income tax fails to garner enough signatures to qualify for ballot

FILE - Election 2020 Colorado Primary
Election judge Michael Michalek, left, directs voter Nicholas Garza on where to pick up his ballot at a drive-thru location outside the Denver Election Commission building, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in downtown Denver.

(The Center Square) – Supporters of an effort to implement a progressive state income tax system called it quits on Friday.

The Fair Tax Colorado campaign said it didn’t collect enough signatures to qualify Initiative 271 for the ballot in November, citing a petition process complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The campaign is ending today, but our ballot work will continue,” said the Colorado Fiscal Institute, one of the measure’s backers. “That’s because citizen initiatives are where tax policy is made in Colorado, and we need to keep Coloradans engaged on these critical issues.”

The measure proposed amending the state constitution and adjusting the state’s current 4.63 percent flat income tax rate according to income. Under the measure, taxpayers making $250,000 or less annually would have been taxed at 4.58 percent; those making $250,000 to $500,000 would have taxed at 7 percent.

Please click (HERE) to read the rest of this article:

Jul 31

Signatures turned in for ballot initiatives on voter approval of fees, income tax cut measures

FILE - Election 2020 Colorado Primary
A voter casts her ballot at a mobile location in the Swansea neighborhood, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Denver.

(The Center Square) – Backers of two taxpayer-related ballot initiatives submitted petition signatures Thursday to the state Secretary of State’s office. 

Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, turned in 197,000 signatures for Initiative 306, which would cut the state income tax rate by 0.08 percent, from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent.

The Denver-based free-market think tank says the measure is meant to help get “Colorado’s economy back to its former strength, by putting money back into the pockets of those who earned it.”

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

Jun 11

Initiative backers want voter approval for big state fees; new enterprise bill cited as reason needed

Initiative backers want voter approval for big state fees; new enterprise bill cited as reason needed

TABOR is an amendment to the state Constitution requiring, among other things, that new or increased taxes be approved by voters.

The executive director of Colorado Rising State Action, Michael Fields, said Initiative 295, which would go into state statute, is more important now than ever as the state grapples with $3.3 billion in budget cuts and looks to find new sources of revenues.

Senate Bill 20-215 is “a perfect example of them trying to go around TABOR to raise revenue by calling them fees,” Fields said. “Clearly, this is the move they are going to make, raising taxes by calling them fees.”

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