DENVER — A bill being sponsored by Republican Sen. Don Coram that would provide financing to water providers for myriad things, lacks support by some who would otherwise support an idea for more revenue to fund water storage in Colorado.
The biggest issue with Senate Bill 21-034, brought by the southwestern Colorado senator, is it proposes a new enterprise fund, funded by a new fee that detractors see as being in conflict with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
TABOR is amendment to the Colorado Constitution that, among other things, requires voter approval for new or increased taxes, as well as limiting growth of a portion of the state’s budget to a formula of population growth plus inflation.
“We haven’t had a chance to look at the bill yet, so our board hasn’t taken a formal position yet,” said Marty Neilson of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, whose primary goal is to support and protect TABOR. “But just hearing the first sentence, I can tell you it is not something we will support.”
That first sentence in the summary reads: “Concerning the creation of an enterprise that is exempt from the requirements of section 20 of article X of the state constitution to administer a fee-based water resources financing program.”
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.
“The message politicians are sending to every Coloradan who voted to support TABOR, strengthen taxpayer protections, and oppose tax increases is they don’t care what you say, no matter how often you say it.” – Jesse Mallory AFP-CO State Director
Coalition Voices Opposition to Gas “Fee”
JAN 22, 2021 BY AFPAmericans for Prosperity-Colorado, Colorado Rising State Action, The Independence Institute, The Centennial Institute, and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) all oppose the proposed plan.
DENVER, Colo. – Within months of voters passing increased taxpayer protections with Proposition 117, legislators are signaling they plan to ignore the will of the voters with a proposal to add “fees” on gasoline purchases. A coalition including Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, Colorado Rising State Action, The Independence Institute, The Centennial Institute, and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT) came out strongly against this proposal and called on legislators to respect the will of the voters.
Jesse Mallory, State Director, Americans for Prosperity-Colorado:
“The message politicians are sending to every Coloradan who voted to support TABOR, strengthen taxpayer protections, and oppose tax increases is they don’t care what you say, no matter how often you say it. Lawmakers must respect the will of the people and bring these proposals to a vote.”
Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action:
“Voters have made it crystal clear that they want to vote on tax and fee increases. Any plan to add significant revenue should include asking voters.”
Jeff Hunt, Director of the Centennial Institute:
“Colorado has some of the worst roads and traffic congestion in the country. Improving our roads is a priority that must be addressed. But forcing hardworking Coloradans to pay for this with additional gas fees in the midst of a pandemic and a struggling economy is the wrong way to go. The Colorado legislature is asking the average Coloradans to pay more just to go to work, go to the grocery store, or pick up their kids from school. The Colorado legislature has the money to spend on improving roads and needs to reprioritize roads over liberal special projects.”
Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute:
“Raising the gas tax without a vote of the people by calling it a fee will definitely give Coloradans gas. If it’s a good idea, bring it to the people!”
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The skyline is backlighted as the sun sets late Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Denver.
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
(The Center Square) – Colorado businesses are opposed to lawmakers increasing taxes during the upcoming legislative session, according to a new survey on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the state’s businesses.
The survey, conducted by the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, found 87% of respondents want lawmakers to avoid “increases in taxes on businesses.”
Of the survey’s respondents, 80% of businesses said they want lawmakers to implement COVID-19 liability protections, and 56% want exceptions in public health orders to allow businesses to stay open if they meet or exceed guidelines.
“The economic fallout from COVID-19 can be felt among businesses of all sizes throughout the state,” Chuck Berry, president of the Colorado Chamber, said in a statement.
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.
And how, at the same time, progressives duped them into massive tax increases elsewhere.
In an election year where the political Left won nearly every ballot question and contested political race in the state, Colorado voters approved two conservative-backed ballot measures demanding fiscal restraint.
Proposition 116 reduces the state’s flat income-tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent, and Proposition 117 requires the legislature to receive voter approval of large new government fees.
Most outcomes from Colorado’s 2020 ballot come as no surprise in a state now largely dominated by the Left. Democrats flipped a seat in the state senate while losing nothing. The Republican-to-Democrat ratio in the House remained unchanged. Voters rejected a ban on abortion after 22 weeks of gestation. The state agreed to join the National Popular Vote compact. Environmental activist groups won on Proposition 114, a measure to introduce gray wolves to the Colorado Rockies. The tax and fiscal issues, however, have left many Colorado policymakers and pundits baffled.
As the grassroots organization Vote on Fees points out, with liberal majorities in the legislature the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the only thing preventing Democrats from going completely out of control at the state capitol.
Colorado’s state legislature uses the word “FEE” to grow state programs and spending without having to ask Coloradans for the permission to raise taxes required under our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Massive revenue increases like FASTER (car registration) fees, are taxes coming out of our pockets to pay for state programs, and should go through the same voter approval process as all tax increases. It’s not complicated — just ask the people.
Two-thirds of state revenue now falls outside of TABOR. We need to do a better job of managing our state’s more than $30 billion budget. The status quo of continuing to grow and create new state programs and finance them off of “fees” needs to end.
Democrats have recently been using fee increases as an end-run around the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a state Constitutional amendment that gives voters the final say on all statewide tax increases. The recent use of “fees” to short-circuit our Constitutional rights is extremely troubling, and fiscally responsible voters need to put a stop to it immediately.
Prop 117 is a major threat to Democrats and their socialist vision for Colorado.