Tom RamstackTom RamstackOctober 19, 20176min699
Colorado U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner argued Wednesday in Washington that middle-income families would benefit from a tax cut as the Senate prepares to vote on a preliminary budget proposal this week. The Trump administration’s tax reform bill is a key part of the budget outline being debated this week. The bill is designed “to create […]

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Tom RamstackTom RamstackSeptember 23, 20176min408
WASHINGTON — Colorado’s lawmakers and business leaders are adding their voices to a controversy over tax reform as Republicans prepare to announce their overhaul plan next week. Republicans say they need to simplify the tax code for a boost to the nation’s economy and job outlook. Some Democrats are concerned changing the tax code would […]

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Tom RamstackTom RamstackSeptember 22, 20176min534
WASHINGTON — Colorado’s lawmakers and business leaders are adding their voices to a controversy over tax reform as Republicans prepare to announce their overhaul plan next week. Republicans say they need to simplify the tax code for a boost to the nation’s economy and job outlook. Some Democrats are concerned changing the tax code would […]

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Paula NoonanPaula NoonanApril 7, 20175min542
Paula Noonan
Paula Noonan

Colorado’s population in 1992 was 3.5 million. Census projections put the state’s population in 2017 at 5.5 million. In 1992, 812,308 citizens — 53.68 percent of voters — said yes to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), and 700,906 citizens — 46.32 percent of voters — said no.

Not to make too fine a point, but the 1.5 million 1992 voters on TABOR would comprise 27 percent of today’s population. And many of those 1.5 million people are no longer living in Colorado. Yet here we are, 25 years later, juggling TABOR limitations at the Capitol.

As background, the state in 1992 was in a deep recession from the oil and real estate bust of the 1980s. Front Range citizens especially were in an economic pit.

Downtown Denver was a dump: no Coors Field, no Pepsi Center, no new Mile High Stadium, no new Auraria Campus, no lightrail, no fancy Union Station, no pedestrian bridge over to the Highlands, no condos in LoDo or RiNo, downtown shopping fleeing to the suburbs, and prominent Denver retail names gone bankrupt.

Colorado Springs was hit hard as its real estate expansion of the ’80s died. Banks were on the brink of going out of business across the state.

After the anti-tax 1992 TABOR vote, Denver metro citizens did a 180-degree reverse and voted to build Denver International Airport. Then citizens voted for Coors Field and Mile High Stadium. With help from Gov. Bill Owens, RTD got a tax for light rail.

These investments set the stage for Colorado’s current economic vibrancy. The investments occurred based on a good feature of TABOR — let the people decide what projects and programs merit their money. Yet TABOR’s bad features, still in place, are wreaking havoc on the state’s budget.

Senator Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, was among five legislators who voted against SB-254, the budget appropriations Long Bill. He’s asking people to take a long view back and forward: “It’s a vote to raise the TABOR issue once again. We’re not funding our schools, oil and gas inspectors, renewable energy, or filling in gaps from cuts from D.C.”

It’s esoteric for newcomers to know that Colorado’s current budget is based on the 2009-2010 recession years due to TABOR. “Unlike other states, because of TABOR’s ratchet down effect, Colorado doesn’t get to make up for downturns and come back,” says Kerr.

When the state gins up more tax revenues, as it has, the budget base doesn’t move up. Its budget level continues at the 2009-2010 recession point, forcing refunds of extra tax dollars.

The Hospital Provider Reimbursement Fee portrays the problem. The health care fees, considered a tax, push state revenues above TABOR limits. The Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee put up SB17-256 to reduce provider fees by $264 million, which causes an additional $264 million loss in federal matching funds.

The provider fee reimburses hospitals for delivering care to people who can’t pay. Without the fee, some hospitals, particularly in rural counties, don’t have enough money to operate. When those hospitals close, uninsured and insured alike lose care.

Four Democratic Senators, Irene Aguilar, Kerry Donovan, Matt Jones and Andy Kerr, and Republican Sen. Owen Hill, voted against the budget Long Bill. Also affected by TABOR is the ongoing $880 million annual negative factor that lowers public K-12 education spending. House members get to vote next.

So the question is, when will today’s citizens get the chance to vote on tax policy for today?



Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJanuary 30, 20174min299
U.S. Sen. Corry Gardner, a Republican, will oppose imposing a 20-percent import tax on Mexican imports, a sign that the Trump administration may face difficulties convincing Congress to back the proposal. Gardner, who was recently tapped to head Senate Republicans’ campaign fundraising with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he fears the tax would start a trade fight […]

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Jared WrightJared WrightJanuary 24, 20174min417

Many of you reading this won’t remember the 2010 Colorado legislative session. Heck, think to yourself if you can recall any legislation passed back then. You likely won’t remember much of what happened that session, but if I mentioned “The Dirty Dozen” I bet you will remember those 12 overreaching taxes proposed, and passed by the Democrats in the state House and Senate during what they declared a “fiscal emergency” requiring extraordinary measures to save the state budget. While no one can argue that our state was in a fiscal turmoil in 2010, the partisan solutions varied as much as the politics itself. We ended up getting stuck with 9 new tax increases to help fill the budget shortfall projected that year and were able to skate by without major cuts in services, which is what Democrats cried would be necessary if these taxes weren’t passed by the Legislature.


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Tom RamstackTom RamstackJanuary 9, 20177min357

Governor John Hickenlooper is developing a strategy for Colorado to capitalize on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last month that would allow the state to collect tax from online sales. The Supreme Court upheld Colorado's "Amazon tax," which could allow the state to collect taxes on out-of-state internet sales. It requires online retailers to report their sales information to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Some businesses opposed the reporting requirement and the tax as a burden on interstate commerce that they say is forbidden by the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. The Clause prohibits state action that creates an “undue burden” on interstate commerce.