2nd reading in the House on Wednesday, March 28th
Unlike the politicians in D.C., state legislators in Colorado must pass a balanced budget every year, within the 120 day legislative session. In fact, this is the only true requirement of the General Assembly; no other bill carries the weight of the Long Appropriations Bill, aptly called the “Long Bill”, and few bills can attract 100 amendment as the Long Bill does.
Because of new revenue that the state is expecting to collect in the upcoming year due to changes in tax law at the federal level, the Colorado Taxpayers Advocate Fund scrutinized this year’s budgeting process. Not surprisingly, this year’s Long Bill rounds out at nearly $30.0 billion, with almost $11.0 billion of that funding being directly attributable to taxpayers’ mandatory contributions to the state. With so much new revenue likely to be available, it would be responsible for the state to return to voters what truly belongs to voters.
While this isn’t likely to happen, Taxpayers can be hopeful that some of their concerns are being heard. Senator Kent Lambert, a Republican from El Paso County, was able to set $500.0 million aside to address the state’s struggling roads and bridges. The Republican caucus made transportation funding a priority all year, so it was no surprise that this request was one of the first made. The Democrat caucus has historically prided itself in funding education generously, and set $150.0 million aside. Both parties seemed to agree that the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) needs serious reforms, but it’s yet to be seen if they can compromises on that front.
What priorities would you like your state to fund in the upcoming year? Join the conversation here or on our Facebook page.
You can learn more about the Long Bill on the General Assembly’s website. The Colorado House of Representatives are set to begin debate on the Long Bill on Wednesday, March 28th.
Amendment 64, passed by voters in 2012, was touted as both a personal freedom milestone and a surefire way to bring an abundance of tax revenue to the state. Confused about why Colorado hasn’t yet evolved into Dubai 2.0 or why schools keep asking for money? So is just about everyone in the state.
To the state government’s credit, it has followed through in appropriating the correct amount of marijuana-related revenue to public schools: Amendment 64% required the first $40.0 million in excise taxes to be placed in a fund dedicated to school construction. There is also a small portion of the state sales tax revenue that is distributed to the State Public School Fund, but the majority of marijuana sales tax revenue is deposited into the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund.
To learn more, the Colorado Taxpayers Advocate Fund put together a graph to show you just where this money is going. You can also learn more here.
SB 196 - Repeal Late Vehicle Registration Fee
Sponsored by Senators Neville & Lundberg and Representative Ransom
On Saturday, March 10th, the Colorado General Assembly officially reached the halfway mark of its 120 day legislative session. As legislators celebrate the halfway mark, the CTAF blog will continue to commend the legislators who are proposing to reduce taxes or fees for the state.
Senators Tim Neville and Kevin Lundberg recently introduced Senate Bill 196, a common sense piece of legislation that would repeal the late fee that’s assessed for failing to register a motor vehicle within the time-frame set forth by the Department of Revenue. Set in place by Senate Bill 09-108, vehicle owners can be slapped with a $25 fee for each month that the owner is “late” for registering the vehicle. Going back to 2010, various legislators have attempted to either soften the penalty or do away with it altogether, but every year the effort is killed.
The late fee fails to recognize that most Coloradans spend their day earning a living, and have little extra free time to spend at the DMV. Although the state has attempted to make the registration process more streamlined, some people can’t afford to take off work or to hire a babysitter for the hour or two it might take to complete the registration process. Colorado Taxpayers Advocate Fund doesn’t think that residents should be penalized for being hard working, and applauds Senators Neville and Lundberg for taking the lead on this bill.
SB 18-196 will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday, March 13th.
Colorado Taxpayers Advocate Fund, Inc. exists to educate citizens and Colorado public officials on issues of public policy so they can, if they choose, make a difference in their community on issues affecting their city, state, and even their country at large.