TBD Colorado, an initiative of Governor John Hickenlooper, is dedicated to creating informed and constructive conversations about State issues. They’ve hosted a number of regional meetings and on Wednesday, released some summary recommendations.
TBD Colorado’s report emphasizes the need for major fiscal and constitutional reform. At the heart of the issue are three amendments to the Colorado State Constitution: the Gallagher Amendment, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), and Amendment 23. Gallagher, approved in 1982, reduced the residential assessment rate (i.e., the proportion of a property’s value that is taxable) and capped the residential share of property taxes. TABOR, approved in 1992, imposed a property tax revenue limit based on inflation and changes in student enrollment and required voter approval for increases to either the property tax rate (i.e., mill levy) or the assessment rate. Amendment 23 required annual increases in base per pupil funding of inflation plus one percent for FY 2001-02 through FY 2010-11 and at least the rate of inflation for FY 2011-12 and each year thereafter. The report argues that together these provisions have “required the impossible–increasing spending (Amendment 23) while reducing revenue (Gallagher and Tabor).” More from the report:
In recent years, the state’s revenues have not kept pace with the underlying growth in the Colorado economy because many of the fastest-growing sectors are either exempt from tax or are taxed at a lower rate than other sectors. Even though Colorado’s revenues are now increasing as the economy begins to recover, the state will be unable to grow its way out of the coming fiscal gridlock unless structural changes are made. Projected demographic shifts, such as an aging population and the increased medical costs that flow from that, will only accelerate the stresses on the state’s budget.
The report also includes a number of recommendations in the areas of education, health care, and transportation. You can read the full report here.
On TBD Colorado’s site you’ll find a number of useful things including a kit on how to host your own meeting. We’ve added TBD Colorado to a new menu listing of Citizen Tools located in the main menu bar at the top of the Colorado Citizen’s site–more tools to come, make sure to send us your suggestions.