The 2019 Colorado State election is approaching quickly with Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and mail-in ballots due to mailboxes Oct. 28. Colorado voters will weigh in on two statewide ballot measures. To assist voters, Ark Valley Voice will break down the pros and cons of each ballot measure, beginning with Proposition CC.
Proposition CC, as written, would allow the state government to keep all the money it collects from existing sources and spend it on education and transportation needs, rather than returning it to the taxpayers. The measure would require that that money, over and above existing revenue limits, be spent on public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges, and transit.
A vote in favor of Proposition CC is a vote to change state law.
A section of the Colorado Constitution called “The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights” (commonly referred to as TABOR passed in 1992) limits the amount of revenue governmental entities can collect and spend or save each year. The limit is adjusted yearly to account for inflation, state population growth, and voter-approved changes to the limit. Money collected above the state revenue limit currently must be refunded to taxpayers.
Proposition CC would not have any effect on refunds for overpayment of income taxes. Taxpayers who over-pay their income taxes will still be issued refunds. Historically, refunds of income taxes and TABOR refunds have are issued at the same time.
The Colorado State Ballot Information booklet, known as the Blue Book, provides arguments both for and against ballot questions. According to the Blue Book, those in favor of Proposition CC argue that addressing major state challenges requires statewide investment:
- Proposition CC provides more money for critical investments in Colorado’s future — children and infrastructure — without raising tax rates.
- An annual audit will be required to assure that funds are directed to the proposition’s stated investment areas.
- While Colorado ranks in the top third of states in household income, it ranks in the bottom third in per-pupil public spending on both K-12 and higher education.
- Further, the state’s roads and bridges are deteriorating, while the cost of improvements continues to increase.
The Blue Book rationale against Proposition CC is primarily tax-focused, opponents say:
- Proposition CC results in higher taxes by permanently eliminating all state TABOR refunds required by the 1992 change to the Colorado Constitution.
- Taxpayers are being asked to sacrifice their refunds to pay for programs that should already be funded within the state budget [but aren’t].
- Proposition CC continues to erode taxpayer protections in the Colorado Constitution.
- Instead of asking voters for permission to keep specific amounts of money collected above the revenue limit each year, the state government is asking voters to give up refunds of unknown amounts forever.