Now that Proposition CC has gone down in flames, what will progressives do next to sabotage TABOR?
Aren’t you sick and tired on politicians trying to weasel their way out of, or ignoring, TABOR?
We need to do something about it, right?
Well then, why not you?
Yes, you read that right.
Why not? It’s a great time to get involved.
If not you, then who?
We could use your help, talents, and skills defending the gold standard, Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
We’re looking forward to having you help Colorado.
It’s easy to join.
See below on how you can make a difference.
The defeat of Proposition CC on the 2019 ballot is not deterring a movement by liberal groups for a graduated income tax system
Colorado voters rejected a bid to remove the spending caps in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — but the fiscal fight is only expected to get more intense in the next year.
One interest group is considering a repeal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and another is testing ideas for a graduated tax system that increases rates for the wealthy. Both are eyeing the 2020 ballot and appear undeterred by Proposition CC’s defeat this year.
“Whatever we do next must be bold enough to drown out the alarmists. That work begins today,” said Scott Wasserman at the Bell Policy Center, the organization seeking to overhaul the tax system, in a statement.
“If we truly want to build a state that works for everyone, then we need to amend the constitution,” added Carol Hedges at the Colorado Fiscal Institute, which is working to unwind TABOR.
If you’re in the Colorado Springs area, join Paul Prentice as he’s speaking on the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) and Referendum CC
at Church For All Nations (CFAN)
6540 Templeton Gap Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80923
Tuesday, October 8 from 7:00-9:00 pm
“TABOR public forum: Jefferson Unitarian Church’s Community Action Network group (JUC CAN) and the League of Women Voters of Jefferson County are co-hosting a TABOR public forum from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 12 at Jefferson Unitarian Church, 14350 W. 32nd Ave., in Golden. A panel will discuss both Proposition CC and Jeffco 1A. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call JUC CAN at 303-279-5282 or the Jeffco League of Women Voters at 303-238-0032.”
TABOR is a constitutional amendment passed in 1992 that, among other things, requires voter consent for new or increased taxes and debt, as well as limiting government revenues to a formula of population growth plus inflation. Under TABOR, governments in Colorado are required to refund excess revenue back to taxpayers, or get voter approval to keep it.
In 1994, two years after TABOR was enacted, Basalt residents voted 220 to 42 in favor of lifting TABOR revenue limits, thus allowing the town to keep any excess revenues it brings in over the regular revenue restrictions in TABOR. Numerous taxing authorities in Colorado have asked voters to do this to avoid having to pay out refunds when revenues exceed expectations.
The Colorado Title Board on Wednesday approved key language for a possible 2020 ballot initiative that would repeal a highly consequential part of the state constitution.
But which part, exactly? If you ask repeal proponents, it’s Article X, Section 20. If you ask repeal opponents, it’s the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. How the ballot question is presented to voters is just the latest high-stakes skirmish in a long war over TABOR, a controversial constitutional amendment passed in 1992 that’s limited government growth in the state.
Both sides presented arguments to the title board, a three-member panel with representatives from the Secretary of State’s office, the state Attorney General and the Office of Legislative Legal Services, that decides if ballot measures meet all requirements and how they should appear on the ballot.
The Full Story Behind TABOR: Read & Listen To The Taxman Podcast
The liberal-leaning Colorado Fiscal Institute is backing the repeal effort, which won a significant victory at the Colorado State Supreme Court last month allowing it to inch closer to the 2020 ballot. Carol Hedges, the group’s executive director, said using the specific term, “Article X, Section 20,” is the most clear, neutral way possible to refer to the amendment.
Q&A with Penn Pfiffner | On standing up for freedom, and TABOR
The TABOR Foundation’s Penn Pfiffner addresses the Reagan Club of Colorado earlier this year. (Photo courtesy the TABOR Foundation)
Even if you don’t move in Penn Pfiffner’s center-right political circles, you’re probably familiar with his name as the media’s go-to guy for comment on the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights whenever it comes up in the news. And it comes up a lot, of course.
The groundbreaking taxing and spending limits — venerated by some and vilified by others — have been stirring debate ever since being enacted into Colorado’s Constitution by voters in 1992. Better known by its acronym TABOR, the constitutional provision has prompted lawsuits, legislation and more ballot issues by wide-ranging interests hoping to elude or at least ease its restraints on state and local budgets.
The perennial back-and-forth over TABOR also spawned the TABOR Foundation, which, along with its advocacy counterpart the TABOR Committee, emerged with the help of Pfiffner and other resolute TABOR supporters to stand up for the policy.
Pfiffner, who served as a Republican state representative from Lakewood in the 1990s, has become as distinctive a voice for TABOR over the years as he has for the advocacy of limited government in general.
He expounds on both of those endeavors and more — as always, in his characteristically eloquent and respectful way — in today’s Q&A.
Colorado Politics: Let’s start with a recent headline. The state Supreme Court ruled June 17 that a pending ballot proposal to repeal TABOR in its entirety may proceed — despite a constitutional “single-subject” stipulation on ballot issues that was long believed to have blocked precisely such an all-in-one-shot repeal.
In a public statement from the TABOR Foundation condemning the ruling, you said, “The court has become dangerously unmoored from the clear meaning of the state constitution.” The statement also said the court ”appears to take sides.”
Recap for us what was fundamentally at issue in the case before court — and why you feel the court missed the mark.
Penn Pfiffner: The recent direction of the Colorado courts on constitutional matters should trouble any citizen. Our American system relies on an honest judicial branch to impartially interpret the law. We have seen an absolutely consistent antipathy from the courts towards the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
It’s an understatement to say that the justices from trial level to the Colorado Supreme Court have appeared to argue backwards from predetermined outcomes. Some of the arguments appeared to me to be even juvenile, like an adolescent trying too hard to argue the impossible.
The central finding in the Bridge Enterprise case that the TABOR Foundation brought is an example. Years from now, I surmise historians of Colorado’s system will be amazed and disgusted that it became so partisan during these recent years. Good, experienced attorneys today are urging the TABOR Foundation not to bring any more constitutional issues to the judicial branch — it’s that futile, and all that we end up with is setting bad precedent. In the case you raise, the court explicitly threw out a generation of precedent. It’s as if they never opened the section on TABOR to read all the different pieces in this comprehensive constitutional measure.
A dissent from the bench pointed out that some activist could now substitute Colorado’s extensive “Bill of Rights” for “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” (in a ballot proposal) and in one vote overturn all citizen protections. A leftist court looks ready to use its personal political views to put a thumb on the scales of justice.
- Chairs the board of directors for the TABOR Foundation and the TABOR Committee, since 2009. The two entities, respectively, educate and advocate on behalf of TABOR.
- Owner, Construction Economics LLC, since 1983; provides financial and managerial consulting to architects, engineers and contractors.
- Senior fellow in fiscal policy at the Denver-based Independence Institute, 2001-2014.
- Served as a Republican state representative from Jefferson County in the Colorado House, 1993-2001.
- Current board member and past president of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers.
- Chaired “Too Taxing for Colorado,” an issue committee to defeat the unsuccessful Proposition 103 tax increase on the 2011 statewide ballot.
- Holds a master’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado Denver and bachelor’s degrees in economics and political science from CU Boulder.
CP: Give us your elevator speech on TABOR’s role, and value, in our state constitution.
Friday, June 28, 2019
TABOR Override in Trouble
The Reagan Club of Colorado was glad to host Penn Pfiffner at April’s meeting to talk about the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR has kept Colorado fiscally healthy, but look for it to come under assault by the Democrats this year. Learn more about the work that The TABOR Foundation and TABOR Committee do at http://thetaborfoundation.org/.