Colorado lawmakers push bill to ask voters to let state keep, spend 'excess' revenue above TABOR cap

Money would go to transportation, K-12, higher ed
Posted at 2:48 PM, Mar 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-20 21:21:20-04

DENVER -- Colorado House Speaker K.C. Becker, D-Boulder, says she has bipartisan support for a bill that could make a dent in Colorado's transportation needs, and could provide more resources to education.

Flanked by Sen. Kevin Priola, R-Brighton, and Democratic Sen. Lois Court, the Boulder Democrat said Wednesday she wants to ask voters to decide whether the state can keep and spend excess revenue already being collected.

The TABOR amendment caps how much revenue the state can spend. It also requires that excess revenue be returned to voters, and that any tax increase be approved by voters.

Becker said in good economic times, more money is being collected because more people are moving to Colorado and more people are purchasing goods and paying taxes.

By law, that money has to be returned to voters, one way or another.

Becker wants voters to weigh in, this November, on whether the state can permanently keep the excess revenue.

"This is not a tax increase," she said, "it's a request to let us keep the money already being generated."

Becker said the companion bill being introduced this week would earmark that excess revenue for three specific areas: One-third would go to transportation; one-third would go to K-12 education and one-third would go to help fund higher education.

The economic forecast over the next three years is that the excess could amount to anywhere between $65 million and $1 billion.

House Republican leadership doesn't think much of the proposal.

“It’s clear what is happening here,” said House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock. “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.”

Priola, an Adams County Republican, said he has received some pushback on his support for the proposal.

He told Denver7 that he has spoken with many constituents, both Republican and Democrat, and they want transportation and education issues addressed.

"This is what TABOR is about," he said, "letting voters decide."

The governor’s office said Polis was supportive of the concept of the measure.

“Governor Polis is supportive of the concept of allowing the state to use the tax revenue it already collects. The Governor appreciates the Speaker’s leadership on ensuring the fiscal health of the state and the Governor will continue to engage civic leaders from across the political spectrum on these important fiscal matters,” the office said in a statement.