The bipartisan proposal would go to the 2019 ballot
(Apr. 16) – The House approved 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 severely restricts the state budget, preventing the investment of revenue already generated from growth in the economy. The cap also limits Colorado’s ability to invest in basic functions of government. As a result, Colorado’s investment in public schools, higher education, and transportation and infrastructure consistently rank at the bottom of the nation.
“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. “It’s commonsense to simply ask voters whether the state can keep and spend the money collects in taxes and that’s what we’re proposing. We are not investing enough in K-12, higher-ed and transportation. This bipartisan proposal won’t solve all our problems but it will help protect our way of life.”
“When times are good, we have a responsibility to invest in the things we care about most – public schools, higher education, and transportation. This is about giving voters a say in protecting our Colorado way of life,” said Rep. McCluskie, D-Dillon.
Witness after witness testified in support of the bills at an April 1st House Finance committee hearing. This effort is supported by a broad, bipartisan coalition. Click here to see the current list of supporters.
Colorado’s TABOR amendment restricts the amount of revenue all levels of government (state, local and schools) 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. 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.
HB19-1257 refers a measure to the Fall 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, a companion bill, contingent on voters approving the referred measure. It splits up the revenue retained due to the measure to be spent 1⁄3 each on public schools; higher education; and roads, bridges and transit.
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.”
HB19-1257 was approved by a vote of 41-23 and HB19-1258 was approved by a vote of 41-23. Both measures now head to the Senate.