Bill is contingent on voters approving the referred measure in Nov 2019

(Jun 3) – Governor Polis signed his final bill today: a bipartisan proposal by Speaker KC Becker and Rep. Julie McCluskie to better fund public schools, higher education and transportation.

Colorado has one of the best economies in the country but the arbitrary TABOR cap restricts the state budget, preventing the state from keeping the revenue it already generates from growth in the economy. The cap also limits Colorado’s ability to invest adequately in basic functions of government and as a result, Colorado’s investments in public schools, higher education, and roads rank poorly compared to other states.

“Colorado’s state budget should be able to grow with the economy so we can make important investments in our future,” said Speaker Becker, D-Boulder. “We are not investing enough in K-12, higher-ed and transportation. It’s common sense to ask voters whether the state can keep and spend the money already collected in taxes. This bill that the Governor is signing just ensures the money is allocated properly to protect our Colorado way of life.”

HB19-1257 refers a measure to the November 2019 statewide ballot asking voters to authorize the state to annually retain and spend all state revenues in excess of the TABOR cap. HB19-1258, the companion bill to HB19-1257, is contingent on voters approving the referred measure, Proposition CC, in November. The bill requires that the revenue retained above the TABOR cap  be spent 1⁄3 each on public schools; higher education; and roads, bridges and transit.

“When times are good, we have a responsibility to invest in the things we care about most – public schools, higher education, and transportation. These bills give voters a say and sends the money to the systems that are crucial to Colorado’s future economic success,” said Rep. McCluskie, D-Dillon.

Colorado’s TABOR amendment restricts the amount of revenue all levels of government (state, local and school districts) can retain, preventing the state from benefiting from economic growth and making critical investments.  

All but four of the 178 school districts in Colorado have obtained voter approval to retain and spend excess revenue. Of the state’s 272 municipalities, 230 municipalities have obtained voter approval to retain and spend all or a portion of excess revenue collected. Of the state’s 64 counties, 51 counties have obtained voter approval to retain and spend all excess revenue.

The state has not yet followed suit, having only temporarily suspended the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR)  limit because of budget constraints through the voter-approved Referendum C in 2005. In the last 27 years since TABOR was voted into Colorado’s Constitution, our state population has increased 50 percent – more than 2.3 million additional people live in our state in 2019 than in 1992. For decades, Colorado has not been able to keep up with the demands of growth because of the outdated fiscal restraints imposed on the state by TABOR. For example, there is a $9 billion project backlog at the Colorado Department of Transportation. Investing in our state’s infrastructure and transportation system is critical for economic development, especially in rural Colorado.

At a news conference when the bill was introduced in March, Speaker Becker read a statement from Gov. Jared Polis about the measures:

“Governor Polis supports allowing the state to keep the tax revenue it already collects. This common sense policy does not alter the right of citizens to vote on taxes but allows Colorado to keep pace with a growing economy. The governor is engaging bipartisan civic leaders across the state because he believes broad bipartisan support is essential to win in November.”This effort is supported by a broad, bipartisan coalition. Click here to see the current list of supporters.

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