On April 29, 2019, the state legislature gave final approval to House Bill 1257, sending it to voters at the election on November 5, 2019. HB 1257 would allow the state to retain excess revenue it is currently required to refund under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Retained funds would be used for education and transportation purposes. The measure would require the state auditor to hire a private entity to conduct an annual financial audit regarding use of funds as intended under the measure.
Representatives KC Becker (D-13) and Julie McCluskie (D-61) and Senators Lois Court (D-31) and Kevin Priola (R-25) sponsored this measure in the legislature. All Democratic members of the legislature approved the measure, while 35 of 37 Republicans voted against it.
Amendment sponsor KC Becker said, “Colorado’s had one of the strongest economies in the country and people think that the state itself can make more investments, more improvements, but we can’t because the state constitution prohibits the budget from growing with the economy. Is this the long-term fix to any of the state’s long-term issues? No, it’s not. I think it’s a necessary, important part of it.”
House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-45) said, “It’s outlandish because we haven’t even hit the TABOR caps, we haven’t even had TABOR refunds but they try to blame [spending limits] on TABOR.” Neville also said, “Democrats can’t pay for all of their empty promises made in the last election, so now they want to permanently eliminate your tax refunds to pay for their expensive programs. It is egregious that the Democrats want to forever take away your consent on what is done with your tax dollars.”
The Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights was adopted in 1992 under a citizen initiative sponsored by Douglas Bruce. TABOR limits the amount of revenue Colorado may retain and spend and requires statewide voter approval of tax revenue increases that exceed an index created by combining inflation and population increases.
So far, one other measure is certified for the 2019 ballot in Colorado—a legislatively referred bond issue that would authorize the state to issue transportation revenue anticipation notes (TRANs) in the amount of $2.337 billion with no increase to any taxes.
As of April 29, 2019, five statewide ballot measures were certified for the 2019 ballot in three states.