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February 16, 2011 09:20 PM UTC

How'd We Get to Where We Are? ... The Road to 2011

  • 131 Comments
  • by: TheBell

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Comments accompanying yesterday’s post on the state budget indicate some folks have a hard time sorting through Colorado’s many fiscal constraints — which is completely understandable. We’ve summarized them in a handy two-page pdf that we call The Road to 2011, but we’ll post it here, too.

Almost three decades of constitutional amendments, legislative acts and economic ups and downs …

To understand how Colorado finds itself in its current fiscal condition, it is helpful to look back at some critical decisions made by legislators and voters over the last 29 years, and at some of the economic and political factors that drove those decisions.

In 1982, near the end of a period of strong economic growth, voters passed the Gallagher Amendment to shield homeowners from significant property tax increases due to rapidly rising home values. The amendment ensures the overall share of statewide property tax revenues paid by homeowners remains at roughly 45 percent of the total, with commercial property owners paying the other 55 percent.

Since Gallagher passed, the total value of residential property in Colorado has grown three times faster than the total value of commercial property. To maintain the 45-55 split, the assessment rate for residential properties has been cut repeatedly while the commercial rate has remained the same.(1)

In 1991, the legislature passed Arveschoug-Bird, a statutory 6 percent cap on annual growth in General Fund appropriations to operating budgets. This provision, named for its legislative sponsors, is usually referred to as a spending limit. It is better understood as a spending formula because it directed where money could be spent rather than limiting how much could be spent. General Fund revenues collected above the 6 percent could still be spent by the state — just not for operating expenses, such as educating students or paying for medical care. For the last dozen years, revenues that topped the 6 percent limit have been largely used to fund transportation and capital construction needs.

In 1992, voters approved the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, a constitutional amendment with wide-ranging implications for all levels of state government. TABOR requires voter approval of tax increases. It also limits revenues, which at the state level cannot increase from one year to the next by more than the increase in population plus inflation. Over time, these limits have been shown to force cuts in government services,(2) and they can be overridden only by a vote of the people. Another of TABOR’s provisions bars the weakening of spending limits without a vote of the people — a provision that until recently many interpreted to mean Arveschoug-Bird, originally passed by the legislature, could be changed only by popular vote.

Among the most far-reaching effects of TABOR is that it shifts the most important fiscal decisions (taxes and spending) away from elected representatives and to the voters. For the most part, state fiscal policy is no longer made by 100 elected legislators and the governor — it is made by more than 3 million registered voters.

In 1997, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1 to allow General Fund revenue to be used for transportation projects once the 6 percent Arveschoug-Bird formula had been reached. For several decades, revenues from the gasoline tax and other sources traditionally used for transportation have not kept pace with need. This is largely due to increased fuel-efficiency of automobiles — motorists pay the same amount of taxes per gallon of gasoline but drive further on that gallon. Once the Arveschoug-Bird cap was reached, SB 1 allowed a little over 10 percent of state sales and use tax revenues to move to the Highway Users Tax Fund, an amount meant to represent the share of those taxes attributable to purchases of vehicles and related items such as tires and auto parts.

During the 1990s, Colorado and the rest of the nation experienced unusually strong economic growth. From 1991 to 2001, Colorado was the third-fastest-growing state as measured by state gross product and by employment growth. State revenues grew with the economy, far exceeding the state’s TABOR limit. Between 1997 and 2001, TABOR required the state to rebate a total of $3.2 billion in revenues that came in above the TABOR limit.

At the end of the decade, the legislature cut sales and income taxes by as much as $800 million. The goal, based on an assumption of continued strong economic growth, was to stop collecting revenues that would just have to be returned.

In 2000, voters passed Amendment 23, a constitutional amendment that requires per-pupil funding for K-12 education to increase by inflation plus 1 percent each year through FY 2010-11. The 1 percent kicker expires in FY 2011-12, but per-pupil K-12 funding still must increase each year by inflation thereafter. The purpose of Amendment 23 was to help Colorado’s funding for public schools catch up to the national average.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the stock market bust in 2001-02, the nation (and Colorado) experienced a significant economic downturn. This, combined with the effects of the tax cuts enacted by the legislature, resulted in an unprecedented drop in state revenues. Because the Colorado Constitution requires a balanced budget, this in turn forced the state legislature to slash state services.

Meanwhile, faced with a continued gap in transportation funding, in 2002 the legislature passed HB 1310 to transfer two-thirds of the General Fund excess reserve to the Highway Users Tax Fund. The other third was set aside to build, repair and maintain state buildings. The General Fund excess reserve is what was left over after overall revenues satisfied all other obligations, including General Fund operating budgets, the 4 percent statutory reserve, and transfers to Transportation under SB 1.

Interactions among these and other constitutional and statutory provisions have often produced consequences beyond those intended.

The interaction of the Gallagher and TABOR amendments, for example, caused a major decline in the local tax base for public schools, requiring significant backfill from the state. From 1989 to today, the local share of education funding has dropped from 57 percent to 37 percent – a historic shift toward state funding for public schools.(3) In part to counter this, in 2007 the legislature voted to remove a provision of the 1994 School Finance Act mandating that local school districts reduce their mill levies whenever they experienced TABOR surpluses. This move was challenged in court, but the state Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that the Legislature was acting within its authority.

The decline in the local property tax base in turn helped spur passage of Amendment 23. By 2000, Colorado had slipped well below the national average for funding its schools. By requiring funding for public schools to increase faster than inflation, Amendment 23 was designed to help Colorado’s schools catch up.

Protecting public school funding from cuts during the economic downturn, Amendment 23 exacerbated the problem for other parts of the budget. As a result, budget cuts fell heavily in other areas. By 2004-05, appropriations to colleges and universities were 21 percent below where they were in 2001-02, despite continued inflation and enrollment growth.

The tax cuts enacted by the legislature before the economic downturn contributed to the severity of the revenue shortfall in 2002-03. While the intention may have been to stop collecting excess revenues that would have to be returned as the economy grew, the actual effect was to greatly exacerbate the decline in revenues as the economy stalled out.

And as revenues finally started to recover with the economy in 2004, Colorado began to feel the full effects of the so-called ratchet mechanisms in both TABOR and the Arveschoug-Bird formula, which lowered both the state revenue limit and the General Fund allocation level by roughly $1 billion during the economic downturn. The effect was to lock in recessionary spending levels. It was comparable to a reservoir that could not be refilled after severe drought, making the low-water mark from the drought the new high-water mark for the future.

In 2005, voters passed Referendum C to bypass TABOR’s ratchet effect and allow state revenues to recover with the economy. Ref C allows the state to retain all revenues it collects for five years (FY 2005-06 through FY 2009-10), regardless of the TABOR limit. For FY 2010-11 and beyond, Ref C lets the state government retain all revenues up to a new “excess state revenues cap” – a cap that still is based on growth in population and inflation but that no longer has a ratchet effect during downturns.

In its first three years, Referendum C allowed the state to retain an additional $3.6 billion, or about 14 percent more than it otherwise would have. Roughly 60 percent of that could be spent on General Fund services, allowing the budgets for K-12 schools, higher education, health and other programs to partially, though not entirely, recover from the downturn.(4)

But because Referendum C did not address the ratchet in the Arveschoug-Bird formula, nearly 40 percent of the revenues it generated (or $1.4 billion) was automatically transferred to transportation ($1.17 billion) and capital construction ($243 million).

In 2008, the nation entered its second major economic downturn in a decade, with state revenues expected to drop by at least $1 billion from previous projections. And while the new revenue limit established by Referendum C will allow revenues to recover with the economy, the ratchet that remained in the Arveschoug-Bird formula was expected to reduce the amount of these revenues that could be spent on General Fund programs by $1.2 billion in FY 2012-13.

To avoid this ratchet effect, in 2009 the legislature passed SB 228, removing the 6 percent formula in Arveschoug-Bird but leaving in place its other provision limiting General Fund expenditures to no more than 5 percent of total state personal income. The removal of the 6 percent formula also effectively eliminated the trigger for SB 1 and HB 1310 transfers to transportation and capital construction. To compensate, SB 228 also committed the state to transfer some General Fund revenues to transportation and capital construction starting 2012. And it created a mechanism for increasing the General Fund reserve or rainy day fund, which has proved inadequate during the last two economic downturns.

That is how we got to where we are today. One clear lesson from the recent past is that an attempt to address a specific problem will often have unintended consequences – and often in areas seemingly unrelated to the original purpose of the measure. As Colorado moves forward from here, we need to be especially attentive to the effect of our actions on all areas that matter to our future.

***

This summary is adapted from Looking Forward, Colorado’s Fiscal Prospects after Ref C, the Bell Policy Center, Colorado Children’s Campaign and the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, 2007.

End notes

1) Colorado Division of Property Taxation 2006 Annual Report, Section II, pages 10 and 14.

2) Ten Years of TABOR, The Bell Policy Center, 2003.

3) Understanding Mill Levy Stabilization in Colorado, Colorado Children’s Campaign, April 9, 2007.

4) Looking Forward, Colorado’s Fiscal Prospects after Ref C.

Comments

131 thoughts on “How’d We Get to Where We Are? … The Road to 2011

  1. This should be on the CSAP.

    And on the entrance exam for the State Legislature.

    Meanwhile – some questions?

    How do we fix it?

    Given that TABOR passed before the single subject, can it be modified any further by single subjects?  How have the other TABOR restricted states handled it?

    I get the Gallagher ratio requirements. But why does it drive down the residential assessment and not push up the commercial assessment?

    Why can’t a district vote to increase their own assessment and fund their schools however they want?

    I.e., is it possible for the state contribution to a district to be a negative number ? If so – under what conditions?

    Is Colorado actually a low funder?

    I’ve seen measures that show just $/pupil where we’re in the middle.  And other measures that show $ per (some other measure – HS grad) where we do ok.  Why is $ per student per GDP or household income really a good measure?

    And ultimately- so what?

    The only data I’ve seen that shows conclusive, incontrovertible proof of improved student performance is great teachers.  How does better funding improve teachers?

    PS

    You mean repeal of Arveschoug Bird wasn’t a tax increase?

      1. Is that any adjustment to Gallagher would make residential taxes rise, so it will never pass a vote of the people.  We like our low taxes on our second, third, fifth houses.

        Of course, at some point, people may realize that pushing off the tax burden on commercial properties has a negative impact on business.  Think maybe our “pro-business” GOP will ever put that 2+2 together?

        1. It died for lack of support in the business community. Esp outside the metro area.

          Apparently for some inexplicable reason, busiensses around the state like roads.

          1. Since property tax mostly is for local governmnets, especially school districts.  Oh wait, didn’t someone say school districts were in trouble, and Hickenlooper’s budget cuts school spending? and don’t even get me started on the ag exemption

          1. It would just take multiple initiatives. Each one can just go down and repeal each part. For example, you can have an initiative that repeals the requirement that voters must approve tax increases. It would take probably 5-7 initiatives, but it is possible.

            The question of whether it is politically possible is another question. Although I would suggest that it may not be any more difficult than passing an initiative that throws out the entire constitution and starts over.

            1. In a concurrence, former Justice Mullarkey hinted that the Colorado Supreme Court may be amenable to allowing the repeal of TABOR by a single initiative if the initiative was phrased as simple “the repeal of TABOR.”

              And lets be frank, the court (especially Bender and Martinez) have shown a propensity to come up with “creative” rulings regarding the single subject rules with initiatives.  

    1. It is a resolution being carried by senator Shaffer that will not only limit the inititive process so we don’t get any more of that Douglas Bruce garbage, but it will make the recall of constitutional provisions easier.

      It justr got out of committee and should be up for second reading either this week or next.

    1. For an immediate fix – decriminalize drugs. That will significantly reduce what we have to spend on prisons and the criminal justice system and will increase sales tax revenue. It’s a sensible change regardless and right now would be a gigantic help.

      For an intermediate fix – lets get a measure on the ballot to adjust taxes to where they need to be, including progressive income tax rates. (And preferably in that adjustment eliminate the high overhead taxes.)

      For the long term fix – we need a constitutional convention. Suck it up and get the process started. Yes every-one’s worried about what might come out of it – but anything too far to the left or right will never pass so it’s not that dangerous a step.

      Speaking as a business owner – this devastation of education in the state is heading Colorado straight toward 2nd world status. We already have trouble finding qualified people and over time this is going to continue to get worse.

      And if the legislature is willing to really think outside the box – let’s take the state to single payer, be ruthless in what is allowed for treatments (ie people will be often told no), and from that reduce medical costs borne by the state. Yes this would be a lot of work with numerous politically difficult decisions. But there’s a lot of money to save there.

      note – to avoid pulling a Rosen, the above is a copy of a comment I made the other day.

      1. is what we have now. As a nurse, I was with you up to that point. I can see denying cosmetic treatments, but anything a person needs medically they should have.

        I have 3 broken fingers that I can’t afford to fix, because fixing them requires surgery. I don’t have health insurance or the money to pay for them to be fixed and my quality of life suffers because of this injury.

        A healthy population will cost less in the long run. We should have single payer, and primary care doctors should be paid well.  

      2. I agree with a progressive income tax.

        The politics of a tax increase is tough. Maybe impossible, maybe not.

        However, no Colorado race was won in 2010 by any candidate advocating higher taxes.   (CD  1 & 2 were not a race.)

        Maybe a way to do it is eliminate the sales tax (yes I wrote this recently ) and replace it with a revenue neutral progressive income tax.

        And repeal Gallagher.

        And modify TABOR.

        I hate that our legislotrs and governor get to throw their hands up and say “oh well- nothing we can do cause the voters have spoken”  Why do we bother electing them?  Pass one or two more amendments and the state gov’t is on autopilot.

        A convention sounds like fun. But in a state that had no problem with Amendment 2 and saying no to civil rights for all citizens…I can’t agree that nothing too extreme would result.

              1. – it was a whole country, not one state

                Why wouldn’t Colorado become a magnet ?

                – from the article describing the perception :

                …criminal laws against drug possession are all that protect Americans from a deluge of drugs, an orgy of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine use that would kill children, destroy productivity and basically leave America a smoking hulk of wasteland populated by brain-dead zombies

                I have to admit, having seen it up close, this is my perception.

                That and crime.

                And I’m not talking about the actual production, transport and sale of drugs. I’m talking about theft and other violent crime resulting from drug users using.

                I don’t care about marijuana, but cocaine and meth – no way.

                    1. Not so much as the rolled up dollar bill up the nose variety. But the crack pipe kills everything it touches.

                    2. and that tax money could be used for setting up treatment centers, so anyone who wants to get clean can.

                      If it was not black market people wouldn’t be sucked into doing things illegally to get their drug of choice. Pull the whole system into the open, after all sunlight is the best disinfectant.

                      Will there till be addicts, absolutely, will regulating and taxing drugs make it better for them, absolutely.

                      Take the money out of the hands of criminals. In Afghanistan, pay poppy growers and cut off the Taliban at its knees. In Columbia, pay the coca grower and financially dismantle the drug lords.

                      Grow pot here and stop all the killing on our border with Mexico.  

                  1. The old-time country doctor in my hometown gave heroin to lots of older people who had pain that he didn’t know how to treat, except with heroin.  When the doctor died, several older people died in fairly short order.

                    My grandfather, prior to the doctor’s death, tried to get off of heroin, decided that he couldn’t do it and took his shotgun out to the corral where his favorite horse was and shot himself.  I was about 11 years old and almost 60 years later I still cuss him out for going off and leaving me.  Selfish kid, huh.

                    I have strong feelings about heroin!

          1. he’ll like you very much, and he’ll have almost nothing but good things to say about you and everyone you know.  (. . . you guys don’t know anyone named Roxy Huber, do you?)

        1. with data, color charts and spreadsheets and no kidding economic analysis, will you hire me?

          Then I can quit CoPols FPE-ing and get all the sympathy farewells. Or not.  

  2. is the reason Colorado had a stronger economy than the rest of the nation during the recession. Though Democrates whine, moan, at chafe at the fiscal discipline, it is sorely needed, as we are seeing with the latest boondoggle of a federal budget Dems are using to prop up their fantasy of free money.

    1. TABOR isn’t the reason our economy was stronger. It’s because we have many natural resources, a huge tourism industry, an educated workforce (albeit mostly not from Colorado), and lastly, because our housing crisis hit early, before the rest of the country’s did (near the top in the nation in 2006 and 2007). The housing market here as had more time to adjust.  

      We give government way too much credit for it’s effect on the economy. Taxes, whether high or low, play a very minor role in the decision making of businesses and consumers.

      What government DOES play a big role in is providing services for those that cannot afford the ‘fair-market value’ of those services, e.g. health care and education. TABOR absolutely restricts the government’s ability to provide these services.  

      1. “Taxes, whether high or low, play a very minor role in the decision making of business and consumers.”

        Wow you are naive. Talk to Ali Hasan, he’s a Dem now so maybe he can explain it to you.

        1. If you think I don’t understand economics you are sadly mistaken. I’m well versed actually. And I stand by my statement. Simply look at the “soda tax” passed last year. A 2.9% tax on soda was supposed to cost thousands of jobs and kill the beverage industry. And yet, Pepsi and Coke have added jobs in Colorado since the tax went into effect. The higher price of soda did not depress sales at all because it has an inelastic demand.

          Conservatives act as though tax dollars get sucked up into a magic vacuum and disappears. In reality, ALL taxes collected end up back in the economy.  

          1. Many taxes collected end up lining the pockets of unions and other groups who support Democrats, at the expense of the rest of us. What do you think the stimulus was for? It didn’t stimulate anything. It is just a giant slush fund for Obama to reward those who got him elected.

            1. I guess if you are a member of a union, or you work in road construction, or you work for the government then you don’t spend your paycheck.

              If taxes are always bad then why don’t conservatives offer to eliminate all taxes? The fact that they don’t tells me that even they believe some taxes are necessary. ?

            1. Never!

              Never, never, never!

              As to your comment:

              And I’d put my grades up against yours any day.

              Don’t confuse knowledge and intelligence. You may be able to regurgitate information you’ve been fed. But my dog is more intelligent than the pablum you spew out here.

                1. If something hasn’t happened directly to him in the last couple of days, then it can’t happen. And the concept of investing today for a better tomorrow is something he seems incapable of comprehending.

                  Like a child he gravitates to simplistic answers.

                    1. A modern recurrence of an earthquake like that of 1882 could cause significant damage. Such an earthquake may be possible anywhere in the Laramie Mountains and in the Front Range from Casper, Wyoming, to Pueblo, Colorado (see back page).

                       

                      Such a magnitude quake would be a rare event in Colorado, but neither unheard of nor unlikely at some (undetermined and unknown) point in the future.  

                      http://earthquake.usgs.gov/ear

                      Seriously, it’s like shooting fish in a 1 gallon bucket.  

                      Basically any statement you make can be refudiated (shout out to your girl!)  in (this instance) .10 seconds.  

                      Next bit of meaningless gibberish?  

                    2. How about when the earthquake happens, we then allocate funds to fix the damaged bridges, rather than wasting the money before the quake happens. Nice try at refudiation. And I’m glad you now admit it is a word. Looks like Palin is influencing even you!

                    3. That is one stupid frickin’ suggestion.  Why should I pay money to put a lock on my door–I have not yet been burgled?  

                    4. Irregardless is not a word either, Mr. Erudite Liberal. Also “stupid frickin'” is not exactly cocktail repartee either.

                1. the 2nd video is the collapse of an OLD bridge, where a new one had already been built. And that last picture looks like it’s a bridge being constructed, not crumbling. Nice try, but no dice.

                  1. Roads in CO are in their worse shape since CDOT began doing assessments according to the Ghost.

                    After the MN bridge collapse they surveyed the 3700 bridges under their purview and found over 10% that needed prompt attention.  

                    I know, they’re engineers and you’re a grad student in [redacted] who thinks that Fred Flintstone really rode a dinosaur.  So your ‘assessment’ that spending money on things like roads is Kenyan-Muslim socialism or something is likely to be spot on.  If by ‘spot on’ I mean ‘worthless boilerplate dribble.’  

                    1. I drive on them all the time. I’m not advocating that we eliminate CDOT. I’m just saying that at a time when Colorado is facing massive budget shortfalls it makes zero sense to spend more money on transportation. Thankfully, Hickenlooper is a businessman and understands the need to balance the budget, despite the childish whining of lefties for their handouts from the taxpayers.

                    2. By suggesting the large number of bridges that CDOT engineers flagged as needing prompt attention be addressed is a proper function of government; is a good investment in our future; is necessary for the flow of goods (aka ‘commerce’); is exactly the type of things I want my taxes spent on?  

                    3. Remember that the next time you think about taking it in for an oil change or belt replacement.

                      It’s still running fine now – just fix it when it’s broken.  Let me know how it works out for you.

              1. I’m not intelligent because I’m conservative. Because everybody knows that only liberals can be smart. Lol, you’re really not on your game today.

                1. That you’re an idiot conservative just makes it more entertaining.  Although I do see a new sig line:

                  “I’m not intelligent because I’m conservative.” bjwilson83  

                  1. * Sigh * I knew that would be used as a sig line the moment I wrote it, even though I was being sarcastic and meant the exact opposite. Trust a liberal to have a reading comprehension problem.

          1. Spend money you don’t have to fix what isn’t broken. And I’m pretty sure a private contractor could do it way cheaper than the government. And then you’ve got the unions to contend with…

                1. Private contractors fix our roads and bridges.  CDOT bids them out.  Private companies, private for-profit companies compete for the projects.  Then they (the private contractors) fix the bridges and roads.  Are there govt road crews?  Sure.  Do they do the actual highway and bridge construction?  Not really.  But, again, you just post whatever piece of vacuous talking point you picked up, have it repeatedly and convincingly demonstrated as unadulterated bullshit, then just move on.  Most adults would be embarrassed to post such factually incorrect crap over and over and get schooled on it over and over again.  But not the beej…which leads me back to my conclusion that you are really an adolescent, perhaps not physiologically but otherwise so.    

                  And guess what? There’s more. Lots of ‘Republican’ companies benefit mightily from federal spending.  

                  In your little binary world however that does not compute I’m sure.  So you find it ‘incoherent.’  

                  1. to mean that I thought private contractors did not fix roads? I was making a comparison between what it would cost if the government did it vs. what is would cost if a private contractor did it, based on your previous comment.

                    1. I should have known that you posted some random comment totally out-of-context.  After all…

            1. Just like if you own a car and you are a ‘responsible’ individual (something republicans pride themselves on) you maintain it by getting the car sreviced in a timely manner. You don’t wait 10000 miles to change your oil, or till your brake pads wear down to the metal because doing so will only destroy your engine or instead of replacing simple pads, you now have to replace the whole brake system. Its common sense.

              When I was 16 I was following one of my girlfriends home from one our infamous ‘dirt’ parties we used throw out off of 24 rd in GJ and she blew a tire and kept driving. I flashed her thinking she must not have felt it but she just kept right on driving. Finally she pulled over after a few miles and asked me what my problem was (this was a while before cell phones were common place) and I pointed to her flat. Her response? “Oh I thought I heard something wierd, but I didn’t want to deal with it so I just turned the radio up”

              what a fucking moron. Of course, what do you expect from a girl who later got knocked up at 17 by some guy who spent most his time in and out of jail.

              My point, you may be wondering? Its not that ignoring uncomfortable problems thinking that they will just go away and won’t add up to exteremely costly consequenses in the future, is a naГЇve dellusion…my point is that you remind me of a fucking moron I once knew.

            2. If you can’t afford to get the oil changed or the brakes replaced, you either stop driving the car (closing bridges) or you get another source of income (raise revenue). You don’t put off paying all your other bills(defunding education) because that’s avoiding your obligations.

      1. the denver paper, and local news had great pics of landslide closing Highway 50 near Cotopaxi.  I don’t know how to link, otherwise I would.  Maybe we should just not fix those minor problem areas, and gradually shut down the system?

    2. No matter how many times you repeat it, hear Caldera/Rosen and Andrews repeat it, nor ow hard you really really wish it was true.

      CT and NY – two of the most expensive tax states in the country, and home to more millionaires per capita. they must be stoopid or something- why don’t they move?

      Taxes are only one factor of many. Repeat that a few times as you move to Texas or Florida. (I’d suggest Alaska, but they’re all about socialism.)  

      1. They ARE moving, because their states have been ruined by liberals. Why do you think Colorado is now a purple state? Texas and Florida have great economies, because liberals don’t run those states.

        1. That doesn’t add up.

          If only you had data and math skills.

          Although, people are moving here from somewhere and most other states do have higher taxes, ie, our taxes are too low

          1. As you yourself just explained. People are moving from blue states where taxes are too high to Colorado where, thanks to TABOR, they are still reasonable.

            1. http://www.texastribune.org/te

              A budget shortfall as high as $27 billion is projected as lawmakers work through the 2011 legislative session, according to estimates from economists and the comptroller’s office. There is unity on the amount of its budget shortfall, however. Republicans who argue spending does not need to be maintained or grow from 2010-2011 levels argue the shortfall could be around …

              Jurists, Lawmakers, Lawyers: Aid Funds Running Out

              Organizations like Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, which provide legal services to those who can’t afford them, are quickly running out of money at the same time that the need for their services is increasing, lawmakers, jurists and legal advocates said today at a press conference.

              They’re surely facing the worst budget cycle any of them have experienced.

              Texas Budget Cuts Trickle Down to Local Governments

              One lawmaker has proposed a constitutional amendment blocking lawmakers from passing so-called unfunded mandates on to local governments. But as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, cities and counties worry the costs will come anyway.

              Gov. Rick Perry’s Symbolic Cuts and His Real Ones

              The proposed budget cuts Gov. Rick Perry laid out in his State of the State speech are more symbolic than lucrative and trivialize the cuts that are being made elsewhere in state services and programs.

              Jail Officials: Mental Health Cuts Hurt Everyone

              Slashing funds for community-based mental health care will hurt taxpayers and degrade the quality of life for thousands of mentally ill Texans and their families, Harris County Jail officials told Texas budget writers today in written testimony for the Senate Finance Committee.


              Texas Nursing Homes Brace for Medicaid Cuts

              Texas agencies facing the budget ax say the only thing left to cut are the services they fund. Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports on fears that many of the state’s nursing homes could be forced to dramatically cut back or even close as a result.

            2. … if the voters hadn’t had enough of Republicans in the California legislature blocking any kind of balanced measure to fix their financial situation by abusing their 1/3 + 1 vote representation to block any rational budget.

              But, since Californians have finally had enough of their 2/3 majority budgeting process, it appears that Democratic Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrat controlled legislature will do just fine in finally balancing their budget without the accounting gimmicks and put-offs that have guided the state for the past 10+ years.

            3. When you come out of your bubble, you find the truth like Club Twitty’s answer to you. Texas is fucked.

              Since you can’t handle the truth, you should just scurry back into your hole where it can’t penetrate and challenge your assumptions.

              1. after the big dogs he yearns to emulate over at Redstate, but especially Erick Erickson, have opened up a jar of buttwhip on him (usually because of his crush on Palin).  Erick and the RS goons enforce an evening of their brand of party discipline on him, sometimes even calling him “comrade” (that really hurts the little guy), and then turn him loose.

                Battered and bruised, he scurries back over here for some R&R, and lays around under Pols table looking for scraps.  (Unable to learn from experience, as soon as the fissures heal, he’ll be off again.)

                1. Erick Erickson is not going anywhere. He was doing pretty well until he ditched Palin for Pence, who promptly dropped out. C4P will be bigger than redstate soon anyway.

        2. Because it certainly is not the mountains, the great weather, the oil and natural gas, the great agricultural land, or the lower cost of living (since we don’t have coasts).

          1. Only took them 100 years or so. Well yes, they are coming here because the cost of living is lower… because California liberals screwed up their cost of living with their stupid policies leading to higher taxes, bloated government, and inefficiency. Or maybe Colorado is just overflow from a state overrun with illegal immigrants. Whatever the reason, you’ve got to admit that libs really know how to screw up a state.

            1. Oh noes!!!  It’s a Republican state, also in deep financial doo-doo.  I know you really want to believe that you are Luke Skywalker, that the world is easily divided into a binary reality where all Democrats are bad, socialists pursuing failed policies; that any government expense (except, presumably, the dole you benefit from) is bad. But unlike you, I’m a grown up.  

              1. There are some Democrats I can respect, like David Thielen. You do not fall into that category. As far as government expenses, I am not for anarchy. I am for limited government. I am for the government not spending more than it takes in. That is why we need a balanced budget amendment, and why I believe cuts should be distributed evenly across the board. See I’m an adult about those things; instead of trying to ste ahem “appropriate” more money from hard working tax payers, I believe that we should all share the sacrifice that is necessary to save our state and country from bankruptcy. If it weren’t for the childish hogging of resources by the unions and other special interest groups, we could get out of this financial mess we’re in.

            2. California’s cost of living is higher because they have beautiful beaches, warm weather almost year round. Cost of living is not about liberal policies, in fact, there are a high number of Republicans in California, like the Governor. Cost of living is about the value of living somewhere. If you understand free market economics then you should understand the idea of value. When living in a particular place is valued more than another place, then it will  cost more to live there.

              As a result, those that can’t afford to live in valuable California move here, where it is less valuable.

                1. With its endless rows of colorful corn husks and glorious tumble weeds. Maybe beej can move to Nebraska. I’m sure they have low taxes, and therefore, must be a thriving commercial haven.  

        1. Companies, and their employees, will move away from here to other states to pay more in taxes.

          Forget that even major companies, who by definition will pay more dollar for dollar, are picking other states to move to because our education system and infrastructure suck. The Beej said it, so it must have come from his ass. Wait, something went awry here…

  3. The State of Colorado spent 3B in 1984 and 18B in 2010. State spending has increased each and every single year. How is this scenario a fiscal shortfall crisis?

    Seems like the purse strings need to be tightened?

    1. Nevermind that inflation and population growth mean that, yes, our state is likely to spend more every year for the same basic services.

      Also nevermind the fact that the only thing propping up our state government for the past two years has been Federal ARRA money.  The state reports a 2008-2009 tax revenue loss, year-over-year, of 13% (no report yet on 2009-2010).

      And nevermind the fact that government services are and should be counter-cyclical to a recession – we spend more on unemployment and health coverage, and we should spend more on capital projects to help push the economy along.

      Finally, nevermind that government expenses have been outpacing inflation, as health insurance companies shed more “inconvenient” would-be-insured.

      Despite this, our state government has cut spending over “standard” budget increases for the past I don’t even remember how many years – they’ve been doing it since Owens and the Republicans had complete control of the state government and TABOR was still forcing them to ratchet down the size of government.

      Rant done.

      Can we agree that, regardless of our differences, our government has not even had the opportunity to exceed the TABOR limits even under Ref. C for the past several years due to the recession?  And that regardless, we weren’t exceeding the very stringent statutory and constitutional limits imposed on the Legislature, and that those limits should be the absolute minimum required to maintain the quality of government services we already have?

  4. Why does our state have such a mistrust of our representatives? I’m all for a healthy skepticism, but Colorado seems to go a bit far.

    It seems like we’re 1 or 2 bills away from budgeting by formula only. Who needs representatives to figure out our yearly budget? Just plug the numbers in the formula!

    H.A.L. For State Representative in 2012!

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