2019 COlorado Voter's Guide
2019 Colorado Voter's Guide.
PROP CC: Vote NO
PROP DD: Vote NO
COUNTY, MUNICIPAL, SCHOOL & SPECIAL DISTRICT QUESTIONS:
Vote NO if you see either of these phrases in the ballot language:
1. “Without raising taxes…”
2. Any reference within the body of the ballot question that refers to “Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution.”
Article X, Section 20 is TABOR, Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
- Raise our taxes;
- Incur government debt that we are obligated to pay off; or
- Keep additional revenues above a very generous government growth formula of inflation plus population, that Constitutionally should be returned to hardworking Coloradans.
Then we just ask that PBI’s have the good manners to ask us. Most all these tax ballot questions have de-TABORING language in them which allows the entity presenting the tax question to also keep your TABOR tax refunds. Most folks don’t realize that the Article X, Section 20 language in the ballot questions refer to TABOR-Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, in the Colorado Constitution. While I might be inclined to vote yes on some of the presented questions, I recommend a “NO” vote on any ballot question referring to Article X, Section 20 of the Constitution. It is important to send the message to PBI’s to discontinue including de-TABORING language in ballot questions. Since 1992, many municipalities, counties, school districts and special districts have de-TABORED our Constitutionally guaranteed TABOR tax refunds by using this strategy of including de-TABORING language deep within the ballot question.
PROP CC: VOTE NO
Prop CC asks “may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019 but is not currently allowed to keep and spend under Colorado law…”
Top Five Reasons to Vote “NO’ on Prop CC
1. Prop CC stomps all over the “consent of the governed.” If approved, Prop CC would take away your right to vote, FOREVER, on whether or not the state government can keep your state TABOR tax refund. More than that, it takes away the right and vote, FOREVER, of future generations to determine if government can keep their TABOR tax refunds. Individuals may agree to give up their own TABOR tax refund but it is immoral to take away the vote and voice of next generations on this question.
2. Colorado does not have a revenue challenge. Colorado has a priority challenge. Author and blogger, Rick Turnquist notes in his op-ed that after TABOR was voted into the Colorado Constitution by the people of Colorado, the state budget for FY 1993-94 passed by the General Assembly stood at $8.0 billion in appropriations funded by $8.0 billion in tax and other revenues. (Colorado is required to have balanced budgets every year). By FY 2019-20 the state budget had grown to $32.5 billion, a growth rate of 306%. Question? Has your income grown 306% since 1992? To put this into perspective, during the same time period Colorado’s population increased by about 75%, and the inflation rate over the period was 86%. Bottom line, even with the TABOR revenue caps in place, the Colorado budget grew almost double the rate of inflation plus population. Imagine if there were no bumper guards in place to control the growth of government.
3. The language in Prop CC is deceptive and dishonest. The first line of “Without increasing taxes” is disingenuous. The authors of the bill prevailed in using this language because it sounds good to everyday, hardworking people. Most people on all sides of the aisle do not like to pay more in taxes so “without raising taxes” sounds good. PBI’s propound that Colorado has collected the extra $ so you won’t notice if Colorado keeps the excess $. Look at it this way, you go to Starbucks and purchase a non-fat pumpkin spice latte and a cookie for $9.00. You give the barista a $10.00 bill and she doesn’t give you your $1.00 back. When you ask her for your change, she explains that she is keeping it and you won’t miss your $1.00. She continues to explain that Starbucks did not raise their prices since the latte and cookie still cost $9.00. In essence, even though Starbucks did not raise their prices, the cost of the latte and cookie increased because you did not get your “refund” back. If Prop CC passes, you and future generations will never again be asked if government can keep your TABOR tax refund $.
To be clear, your TABOR refund is different from the refund that may appear at the bottom of your Colorado tax refund. The state of Colorado gobbled up most of the tax refund that Coloradans would have gotten from the Trump tax cuts. The Trump tax cuts eliminated a number of deductions. This increased most folk’s taxable income number. Then the Trump tax cuts lowered tax rates which in practice lowered the income tax amount owed by most individuals to the Federal Government. But in calculating your Colorado state income taxes, the number at the bottom of your federal form is moved to the top of your Colorado form. Since the federal number is a larger number, most Coloradans state income tax bill increased and the state of Colorado immediately received a revenue bump. The 2019 state legislature could have passed legislation to remedy this increase in our tax bills, however they chose to do nothing.
4. Prop CC implies that all funds collected will help fund transportation and education. PBI’s know that transportation and education “sell” to the electorate because we think these are important and we are frustrated with the condition of our roads, bridges & congestion and want to give our kids the best education possible. However, Colorado Speaker of the House and sponsor of the Prop CC bill, K.C. Becker, has clarified on at least two occasions that no legislature can force or guarantee how a future legislature would spend revenues. It is disingenuous and dishonest to push the narrative that this money will be used for transportation and education. Just a question? Where has the marijuana $ gone?
5. No blank check for PBI’s-Politicians, Bureaucrats and Interested Parties! Plus, we must rein in PBI’s who use their power and control to pick winners and losers. Researcher Patti Kurgan notes in her op-ed that the State of Colorado has offered millions of $ in tax incentives/credits, grants, etc. to large corporations. These companies are successful companies. They do not need government money to maintain their success. I believe that the free and fair market should stand alone without government interference. It is better to cut taxes across the board without any preferential treatment for “chosen” companies which allows PBI’s to pick winners and losers.
PROP DD: VOTE NO
In May 2018, The Supreme Court ruled that sports betting is legal. Now Prop DD is asking to increase taxes by $29,000,000 to pay for the regulation of sports betting in Colorado purportedly to fund state water projects. Sports betting and water projects are two unrelated subjects and should be treated as such. For the best use and results of our tax $ and to keep government transparent, accountable and responsible, taxes should be broadly based. Prop DD plays into the narrow narrative that sports betting is “bad” or sinful, therefore it is okay to impose a “sin” tax for the “good” of the many. However, this empowers future PBI’s to impose “sin taxes” on things that they think are bad. Future PBI’s definitions of bad may be diametrically opposed to your definition of bad.
Top Five Reasons to vote “NO” on Prop DD:
1. The legislative act referring Prop DD to the ballot is 37 pages long. This is longer than the United States Declaration of Independence. Common sense dictates that we do not pass propositions that are longer than the document that founded our country.
2. Prop DD sets up another bureaucratic agency to regulate sports betting. It seems to me that sports betting should fall under the, already in place, Colorado Division of Gaming. There is no reason to set up another bureaucratic agency.
3. Prop DD picks winners and losers. Prop DD designates “a limited number of licenses will be issued. Persons or entities currently licensed to conduct limited gaming (i.e., the owners of casinos in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek) are the only persons or entities eligible to hold a “master license” to conduct sports betting upon paying a license fee and submitting to background checks. A master license entitles the licensee to contract with a licensed “sports betting operator” or a licensed “internet sports betting operator”, or both, for the operation of sports betting.” Really? Offering a “Master License” for sports betting? Clearly, government picking who gets to play and who doesn’t.
4. Prop DD plays into the frustration of Colorado farmers and ranchers that water issues have not been addressed by the Colorado State Legislature or governor. Growing up in rural Kansas, I understand the importance of water policy, planning and implementation. The purported initial $29,000,000, less the payouts of the nine entities to be paid before the Water Plan receives any money, is a pittance to the cost of really addressing Colorado’s water issues. This isn’t about water. This is about a new bureaucratic commission whose purpose is to collect taxes. Here is the Colorado Water Plan.
5. Per the Prop DD Act referred by the legislature, Prop DD establishes a sports betting fund to:
- Pay for the commission’s and division’s start-up costs including licensing and sports betting related to sports betting.
- Pay all ongoing expenses, related to administering, incurred by the commission, the department, the division, and any other state agency from whom assistance related to the administration of the commission…
- Transfer an amount equal to six percent of sports betting tax revenues to the wagering recipients “hold harmless” fund.
- Pay the State Historical Fund for any loss of revenue they can demonstrate, to the commission’s satisfaction, attributable to sports betting.
- Pay the colleges described in Section 44-30-702 for any loss of revenue they can demonstrate, to the commission’s satisfaction, attributable to sports betting.
- Pay the cities of Central, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek for any loss of revenue they can demonstrate, to the commission’s satisfaction, attributable to sports betting.
- Pay the counties of Gilpin and Teller for any loss of revenue they can demonstrate, to the commission’s satisfaction, attributable to sports betting.
- Pay any persons or entities who benefit from purse funds collected pursuant to section 44-32-702 or 44-32-705 for any loss of revenue they can demonstrate, to the commission’s satisfaction, attributable to sports betting.
- Pay $130,000 to the Office of Behavioral Health in the Department of Health to be used as follows:
1. $30,000 for the operation of a crisis hotline for gamblers by Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners or its successor organization
2. $100,000 for the prevention, education, treatment and workforce development by and including the payment of salaries of counselors certified in the treatment of gaming disorders.
- FINALLY, Transfer all remaining unexpended and unencumbered money to the Water Plan Implementation Cash Fund.
I hope this 2019 Colorado Voter’s Guide serves as a helpful reference as you complete your ballot. Thank you to Patti Kurgan for her research, edits and comments in completing this Voter’s Guide!