Oct 11

Voters to decide if El Paso County can keep $15 million in excess revenues

Voters to decide if El Paso County can keep $15 million in excess revenues

From the 2021 Voter Guide: Races and issues in El Paso and Teller counties series

EL Paso County voters will decide in November 2021 whether to refund $15 million in excess government revenue back to residents or to use the money to address road infrastructure projects and backlogged parks maintenance.

Courtesy of El Paso County Public Works

 

El Paso County voters will decide whether the county may keep $15 million in excess government revenues to fund road infrastructure and deferred parks maintenance projects when they cast their ballots Nov. 2 — money that would otherwise be refunded to taxpayers under Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

If voters approve the question, El Paso County will use $13 million of surplus funds to pay for backlogged roadway improvements, including paving and repairing potholes on roads throughout the county. Another $2 million would fund deferred parks projects such as capital improvements, trail preservation and wildfire mitigation at Bear Creek Park, Paint Mines Interpretive Park, Fountain Creek Regional Trail, Ute Pass Regional Trail, The Pineries Open Space and Fox Run Park, including a northern nature center.

The question also asks voters to decide whether to raise El Paso County’s revenue cap to reflect actual 2021 revenue, increasing the limit from $285 million to about $300 million. The amount of the final revenue cap is unknown until next May, because El Paso County will continue collecting additional state and sales tax revenues through the rest of the year, county spokeswoman Natalie Sosa previously said.

2021 Voter Guide: Races and issues in El Paso and Teller counties

TABOR calculates increases in most local government revenues to a formula based on population growth and inflation. Excess can only be used for voter-approved purposes. Continue reading

Sep 28

EDITORIAL: $4 billion in returns will fuel the economy

Tails should not wag dogs. It defies physics, not to mention the will of the dog. Tails should wag dogs no more than politicians should decide the size and scope of a government established by the governed to serve the governed. A roaring economy should never increase the size and scope of government unless the people demand it.

The residents of Colorado have made clear they don’t want more government. They believe the state has all the money it needs. They reiterated this conviction just two years ago when they trounced Proposition CC, a proposal to let the state keep revenues above a floating state spending cap determined by an equation of inflation and population growth.

Just last year, voters went a step further and lowered the Property tax from 4.63% to 4.55%, and probably would have voted for a lower rate had they been given the option.

One reason this center-left blue state wants to throttle back government spending is the general discontent the public has with the way politicians treat their money.

To read the rest of this editorial, please click (HERE):

Sep 16

Sen. Rob Woodward: Why can’t Democrats respect the will of the voters?

By Sen. Rob Woodward 

If there is one thing that I’ve learned during my time in state government, it’s that Coloradans like to have their voices heard on taxes, fees and government debt. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) is often at the center of debate and discussion on these issues, but at every opportunity that voters have had, they’ve repeatedly upheld TABOR.

Colorado voters soundly defeated — by over 100,000 votes — an attempt to repeal portions of TABOR just two years ago when we voted down Proposition CC. Then, in 2020, voters strengthened TABOR by passing Proposition 117, which required that any new fees that feed into a government enterprise that expect to bring in over $100 million over five years must be voted on by the people. This initiative was born from necessity as some politicians found it convenient to bypass TABOR by simply switching out the term “tax” for “fee.”

This legislative session, Democrats, who have complete control over state government, were determined to not let you have a say when it comes to taxes and fees. Colorado Public Radio columnist Andrew Kenney dubbed this legislative session as “The Year Democrats Left TABOR Behind,” and I unfortunately must agree.

To continue reading the rest of this story, please click (HERE):
Aug 22

El Paso County commissioners to mull placing tax question on November ballot

El Paso County commissioners to mull placing tax question on November ballot

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A man holds his son’s hand while his other child rides in a carrier on his back, adorned in a bear hat, during a Bear Run at Bear Creek Regional Park event in this file photo from November 2019.

El Paso County commissioners will take a closer look this month at a proposed November ballot question that, if voters approve, would use $15 million in excess government revenue to fund road infrastructure projects and deferred parks maintenance county officials say are sorely needed.

Commissioners will discuss the possible ballot question during the board’s regularly scheduled meetings Aug. 17 and 24. Residents can come to these hearings to offer input on the possible question before commissioners vote on whether it will make it onto the November ballot. Commissioners expect to vote on the matter Aug. 24.

Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, ties increases in most local government revenues to a formula based on population growth and inflation. Excesses can only be used for voter-approved purposes.

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

Aug 22

Castle Rock looks to voters to ‘de-Bruce’ for 10 years

TABOR pause would pay for road improvements, police and fire personnel

Posted 

In November, the Town of Castle Rock will ask taxpayers to pause TABOR for 10 years. TABOR, known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, was approved in the 1990s, changing the state’s constitution to require all tax increases be approved by voters, limiting how much local and state government can spend.

Castle Rock Town Manager David Corliss said he has no problem with the part of TABOR that requires residents to approve tax increases. However, the restrictions and limits TABOR can put on a municipality to keep up with the cost of growth is a problem, he said.

TABOR is a state tax and expenditure limit that includes the following elements: It is a Colorado constitutional amendment; it restricts revenue or expenditure growth to the sum of inflation plus population change; and it requires voter approval to override the revenue or spending limits.

Colorado is the only state in the nation with TABOR.

Castle Rock Town Attorney Michael Hyman is no stranger to how TABOR has created controversy and issues for state and local municipalities trying to balance a budget. In the 1990s when TABOR was passed by voters, Hyman worked for the City of Aurora.

Click (HERE) to continue reading the rest of this story

Aug 11

Mark Hillman: State Democrats ignore voters’ voices

Mark Hillman: State Democrats ignore voters’ voices

By MARK HILLMAN |

August 11, 2021 at 7:30 a.m.

Gov. Jared Polis and Progressive Democrat majorities at the Ssate Capitol have spent the past three years ignoring clearly-expressed voices of Colorado voters on tax and economic issues. In fact, Progressive Democrats’ disregard for many of the same voters who elected them has become so brazen that they seem to be daring voters to hold them accountable.

With commanding majorities of 41-24 in the House of Representatives and 20-15 in the state Senate, it’s understandable that Democrats are developing a sense of invincibility.

However, it remains to be seen if the Democrats’ recent surge — in 2017, they held a 34-31 margin in the House, while Republicans had an 18-17 majority in the Senate — is due to their own popularity or because Donald Trump irritated many Colorado voters.

In 2018, Colorado voters rejected (59%-40%) a tax increase to raise $700 million a year for highways and transportation. In that same election, voters said “no” (55%-45%) to draconian restrictions on oil and gas development across the state. Polis, campaigning for governor, claimed to oppose those severe oil-and-gas restrictions.

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

Aug 11

Public invited to comment on TABOR ballot proposal

 

Helen Robinson

El Paso County residents are invited to attend and participate in two meetings during the month of August in which the Board of El Paso County Commissioners will discuss a possible November ballot question to fund road infrastructure projects and deferred parks maintenance. The meetings will be held during the board’s regularly scheduled Tuesday meetings on Aug. 17 and 24.

Commissioners will refund $7.1 million in excess 2020 revenues to taxpayers regardless of how the question under review moves forward, according to a county-issued news release.

“The 2020 refund is important to ensure full community recovery from COVID-19,” the release said. “Without raising taxes, the proposed ballot question would enable the county to address around $15 million of backlogged road and parks projects by allowing the county to retain funds collected in 2021 above the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) cap. The proposal would restrict the $15 million of the revenue for specific road infrastructure and parks projects, reset the cap to reflect 2021 revenue.”

“We want to hear from our citizens as we weigh the possibility of adding a TABOR question to the November ballot,” Stan VanderWerf, chairman of the board of county commissioners, said in the release. “Our Department of Public Works estimates we have hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance road needs in our county. This is one option to address the problem, but our citizens are smart and informed. We need to hear from them to see what ideas they have.”

Click (HERE) to continue reading this story:

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

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):