Editorial: Time has come to allow state to spend excess TABOR funds

Colorado voters have an opportunity to strike a blow for sanity Nov. 5.

Proposition CC would do for state government what voters have already approved for almost all Colorado school districts (96 percent), counties (84 percent) and municipalities (80 percent): allow the state to spend revenues that it collects above spending limits imposed by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

TABOR, the restrictive tax-and-spending measure passed by Colorado voters in 1992, limits governmental spending to inflation plus population growth. The effect has been that state spending has not kept up with overall growth in the economy, leading to draconian cuts in funding for critical programs such as K-12 and higher education. (Colorado ranks near the bottom of all states in funding of K-12 and higher ed.)

And that ratchet-down effect also has caused the state to fall woefully behind on transportation spending, with the backlog of critical transportation projects last estimated at $9 billion. (And any downturn in the economy would once again exacerbate the problem, as spending levels would “ratchet down” along with any decrease in tax revenues.

Opponents of Prop CC argue that it violates TABOR, when, in fact, the opposite is true; courts have found that TABOR allows for voters to remove the limits on spending, as they have done for most of the political subdivisions of the state, as noted above.

But that has yet to occur at the state level, and, after 27 years of TABOR, the time has come.

Prop CC is designed to direct spending of the excess revenue in thirds: with one-third going to transportation, one-third to K-12 education and one-third to higher education. Estimates are that such additional spending would amount to $310 million in 2020 and $342 million in 2021, thought those estimates have since been revised downward.

Proposition CC does nothing to affect a provision that has widespread support from voters: the ability to vote on any tax increase. Additionally, it does not raise taxes. It merely allows the state to spend all of the revenues that it collects under current tax rates, rather than refund any excess revenues to the voters.

This provision does not make up for 27 years of cuts to K-12, higher ed or transportation. But it does enable the state to begin to address the shortfalls and sets Colorado up to invest wisely in its future.

Vote “yes” on Proposition CC.

Colorado voters have an opportunity to strike a blow for sanity Nov. 5.

Proposition CC would do for state government what voters have already approved for almost all Colorado school districts (96 percent), counties (84 percent) and municipalities (80 percent): allow the state to spend revenues that it collects above spending limits imposed by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

TABOR, the restrictive tax-and-spending measure passed by Colorado voters in 1992, limits governmental spending to inflation plus population growth. The effect has been that state spending has not kept up with overall growth in the economy, leading to draconian cuts in funding for critical programs such as K-12 and higher education. (Colorado ranks near the bottom of all states in funding of K-12 and higher ed.)

And that ratchet-down effect also has caused the state to fall woefully behind on transportation spending, with the backlog of critical transportation projects last estimated at $9 billion. (And any downturn in the economy would once again exacerbate the problem, as spending levels would “ratchet down” along with any decrease in tax revenues.

Opponents of Prop CC argue that it violates TABOR, when, in fact, the opposite is true; courts have found that TABOR allows for voters to remove the limits on spending, as they have done for most of the political subdivisions of the state, as noted above.

But that has yet to occur at the state level, and, after 27 years of TABOR, the time…