COLORADO — In a matter of days ballots will be showing up in mailboxes throughout Colorado, and there will be a few questions to answer.
Every Colorado voter will see at least two questions on the ballot: Proposition CC and Proposition DD. State lawmakers referred both of these to the ballot during the 2019 legislative session. A key part to understanding these ballot initiatives goes back to a constitutional amendment Colorado voters approved in 1992- the Taxpayers Bill of Rights.
Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR)
TABOR made a few changes to how state and local governments handle money. Among the biggest changes, it requires any tax increases and debt to get voter approval. Critics say it’s a challenge to pass bonds, mill levy overrides, and tax increases to fund projects such as transportation and schools.
Additionally, TABOR limits how much government can grow by setting a revenue cap, which can’t grow more than population and inflation each year. If revenue surpasses that, it gets refunded back to taxpayers.
It also bans certain kinds of taxes such as a statewide property tax, local income taxes, and taxing income at different rates (which is done at the federal level).
Proposition CC asks voters if the state can keep excess revenues, currently refunded under the TABOR, and use the money to fund transportation, K-12 schools, and the state’s colleges and universities.
This is a question many local school districts and governments have asked in Colorado in a process known as "de-Brucing" (named after TABOR's author Douglas Bruce).
After the current fiscal year (2018-2019) , the state estimates there will be $264.3 million subject to TABOR refunds. This is according to an economic forecast released by the state's nonpartisan legislative council staff last month. The same forecast shows a $142.9 million will exceed the cap the following fiscal year.
It’s an issue generating a lot of discussion: supporters say the additional revenue is money the state could use for major needs, and opponents say the state already has enough money- lawmakers just aren’t spending it wisely.
Coloradans haven’t received a TABOR refund since 2016. Proposition CC would permanently end any refunds, unless another change is made.
According to the September economic forecast, the expected refunds in 2020 would be $10 for Coloradans making $40,000. For Coloradans making between $85,000 to $133,000 the refunds would be about $115.
Among the supporters are many of Colorado's educators. The ballot question promises to allocate money to transportation, K-12 education and higher education. A bill passed during the 2019 session to allocate the money also denotes the money will be used for non-recurring expenses.
Teachers see Proposition CC as a way to add money to schools, something they say is long overdue.
"It's taking that next step that our voters need to do and say I am willing to spend that money," Phyllis Robinette said, President of the Pikes Peak Education Association.
Robinette says Colorado teachers often leave the profession over lack of resources in schools.
"It's to say when our economy is doing good, what should we do with those extra dollars the state is getting," Robinette said.
If you'd like to learn more information from the "Yes on CC" campaign click here.
One of the biggest arguments from opponents of Prop CC is that the government has enough money- and it needs to spend it more wisely.
Among the people in that camp, is the author of TABOR, Douglas Bruce.
“The worst part of this proposal is just that they aren’t asking for short term money," Bruce said, who added in 2005 voters approved Referendum C, which gave additional money to the state.
"We need to demand that the government obey the constitution," Bruce said.
The other concern among opponents is that it's not a temporary retention of the additional revenue. Proposition CC would permanently end any refunds coming from TABOR.
If you'd like more information from the "No on CC" campaign click here.
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