Legal memo upsets effort on Colorado hospital provider fee

Dive Brief:

  • A memo from Colorado’s Office of Legislative Legal Services says it woud be unconstitutional for state legislators to exempt the current hospital provider fee program from the revenue limits of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) by turning it into an enterprise fund, state senate President Bill Cadman announced this week.
  • Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) has been pushing for the change to boost funding for transportation, to which the provider fee is tied.
  • As it stands, the fee is pushing the state above its revenue cap, which requires taxpayer refunds despite shortfalls in other budget areas, the Denver Post reports.

Dive Insight:

Legislators are at odds over the legality of the move to exempt the provider fee from TABOR, as may be legal analysts, given Hickenlooper’s administration claims it worked with the attorney general’s office last year and was assured that nothing in TABOR would prevent the effort.

State budget director Henry Sobanet described the recent memo as “fatally flawed and incomplete legal analysis.” He added, “TABOR explicitly provides for this structure. To say HPF can’t be an enterprise makes no sense.”

The memo reflected a nonbinding opinion and the attorney general has not issued a formal opinion, the Post reports.

Recommended Reading

Denver Business Journal: State hospital provider fee can’t become an enterprise fund, says legal memo
The Denver Post: Legal memo complicates Hickenlooper’s hospital provider fee effort
The Colorado Statesman: Cadman: Somebody knew hospital provider fee is unconstitutional

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