Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Romanoff Floats Fix of Conflicting Fiscal Mandates in Constitution

Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, thinks the General Assembly should ask the voters to reconcile the conflicting demands of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights and Amendment 23.

Romanoff says he will introduce a resolution asking the voters to approve a constitutional amendment that eliminates the mandatory tax refund aspects of TABOR while also eliminating the requirement that public school funding grow by the rate of inflation plus one percent through 2011.

According to a report in the Durango Herald, Romanoff plans to propose that the funds not returned to the taxpayers in years when the state gains revenue in excess of the TABOR base instead be placed in a "rainy day" account dedicated to K-12 education.

The proposal thus would preserve the TABOR requirement that Coloradans be given a chance to vote on tax increases while replacing the Amendment 23 funding mandate with a reserve dedicated to public education.

A resolution proposing a constitutional amendment would have to receive supporting votes from two-thirds of the members in each chamber in order to be placed on this autumn's ballot.

Because the Democrats hold only 40 seats in the House, they would need the votes of four Republicans to achieve that threshold. The Herald report says that Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, is considering whether to support it. Romanoff would likely also turn to Joint Budget Committee member Al White, R-Hayden, Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, Rep. Rob Witwer, R-Genesee, Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Lakewood, and Rep. Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, for support.

Minority Leader Mike May of Parker was quoted in the Herald report as saying the GOP caucus was not inclined to support Romanoff's initiative.

Over in the Senate, the Democratic majority would need four GOP senators to approve the resolution. Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, has signaled support for the idea. Other possible Republican supporters could include Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial, Joshua Penry of Fruita, Steve Ward of Littleton, Ken Kester of Las Animas, and Jack Taylor of Steamboat Springs.

A resolution incorporating Romanoff's proposal has not yet been introduced.