In honor of Tax Day, CTAF wants to remind you how the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) is helping keep politicians accountable to the people.
Back in 1992 Colorado voters were wary of big government, and enacted TABOR to limit state spending and to require refunds to the taxpayers if the state encounters too great of a revenue surplus. This amendment to the Colorado constitution allowed for reasonable growth due to inflation and population growth, but otherwise has kept state legislators from growing government more than they already do. Referendum C was passed by the voters in 2005, and gives the state a little more flexibility in how much it can spend and retain.
Without TABOR, it’s scary to think of the budget that would emerge from the Capitol. Nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff at the Colorado General Assembly forecasts that the state will have $8.4 million above what it is allowed to spend in the upcoming fiscal year; that’s $8.4 million that would be spent on growing government programs instead of being returned to its rightful owners.
Just this month, there was a proposal to give $529.0 million to the Colorado Department of Education—that’s in addition to the $150.0 million already allocated to the Department for the upcoming year. Even worse, the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) faces an unfunded liability of $33.0 to $50.0 billion, but certain legislators would rather squander the cash than to chip away at this problem or at least return the money to taxpayers.
When legislators propose these lofty funding ideas, they seem to forget that Coloradans are the ones to foot the bills. Fortunately, TABOR is a small daily reminder that the people of the state should be the sole decision makers for these spending questions. As you wait on your tax refund to hit your bank account, or rush to file your tax return before the end of the day, be thankful that TABOR is around to keep more of your money in your own hands.
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.