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

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

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 12

Debunking the top 5 misleading claims about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights experience

Featured Image

 

  • Debate over North Carolina’s recently proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights will begin heating up soon
  • Opponents will likely try to portray Colorado’s experience in a negative light, to serve as a warning
  • Their major claims, however, are easily debunked

North Carolina legislators recently filed a bill that would enable voters to decide if a Taxpayer Bill of Rights should be added to the state constitution.

The main feature of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights is that it would limit the annual growth rate of the state budget to a rate tied to inflation plus population growth. Other provisions would require voter approval of tax increases and mandate that excess revenue collections be used to bolster the state’s Rainy Day fund and refunded back to taxpayers.

The benefits of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights are many, most notable in that it would make permanent the fiscal restraint that conservative lawmakers have exercised over the last decade. Common-sense restraints on spending can smooth out spending cycles, better prepare the state for economic downturns, and enable tax cuts to make North Carolina more competitive for investment and job growth.

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

May 12

GUEST COLUMN: Family budgets beset by politician’s plans

Paul Lundeen
Paul Lundeen

There is no doubt Colorado needs to upgrade its roads and bridges. You can’t drive in El Paso County without swerving around potholes. Now that the pandemic appears to have crossed a tipping point, wait times are building again to get from Colorado Springs to Denver.

The fact that Colorado legislators are paying attention to our infrastructure problems should be a win. But SB 260 is more about building government than building roads.

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

May 04

Protect Colorado Taxpayers – Vote NO on the Gas Tax

You’ve likely heard about the legislature’s new gas tax proposal, which seeks to raise over $4 billion to “solve” our infrastructure needs. This massive proposal includes new charges at the gas pump, on delivery services like Amazon, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and more.   No matter who you are, they have a new charge for you.

We all agree that our roads and bridges need repair, but Coloradans already pay 22 cents per gallon in State taxes, on top of the 18.4 cents we pay in federal taxes. For certain politicians that’s just not enough.

Much of the debate has focused on the questionable legality of the proposal, due to the passage of Proposition 117 just this past November.  That requires governments to receive voter approval before enacting these types of new, large “fees.” The unique protections of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, require the legislature to obtain voter approval before raising taxes. But sponsors won’t let that stop them. Instead, they’re calling these new taxes, “fees,”’ so that Colorado voters won’t have a voice in the process. Continue reading

Apr 26

Conservative advocacy groups look to cut Colorado’s gas tax rate

 

FILE - Colorado gasoline pumps
An attendant walks past the empty gasoline pumps at Shell station down the canyon from where casinos have been closed to the public in the state’s efforts to fend off the spread of coronavirus Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Black Hawk, Colo.

(The Center Square) – Two of Colorado’s most influential conservative advocacy groups say they will join forces on ballot measure language to reduce the state’s gas tax in 2022.

Americans for Prosperity-Colorado (AFP-CO) and Colorado Rising State Action announced the plan in a statement on Monday in response to a Democratic-backed proposal to hike fees on gasoline to fund the state’s transportation system.

The $3.9 billion fee proposal, which hasn’t been formally introduced in the General Assembly yet, would include fee increases on regular gas, diesel gas, electric vehicle registrations, ride-shares, and online retail deliveries.

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