Monday, January 19, 2009

Post Reports Heath Will Lead Charge Against TABOR

The Denver Post is reporting that freshman Democratic Sen. Rollie Heath of Boulder is leading an effort by several legislators to revamp the state's Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

According to the article,

Last week several lawmakers — including Heath, House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, and Sen. Al White, R-Hayden — held a meeting about what to do with TABOR. Heath described the meeting as a "free-flowing conversation" in which the participants agreed on the need to do something.

"But that something is nowhere near decided," he said.

"We were just kicking it around philosophically to see what kind of coalition might be out there," White said.

Republican senators attacked the idea of re-visiting TABOR, pointing out that the voters' defeat of Amendment 59 in November indicates that the electorate is not interested in permanently loosening the revenue limits imposed by TABOR.

"At this point you have to ask, what part of 'no' don't some people understand?" Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, said. "We are in the middle of a deepening recession right now anyway, and I cannot imagine this is the top issue for most Coloradans."

Amendment 59 would have retained TABOR's requirement that tax increases be approved by voters and made permanent the relief from revenue caps authorized by 2005's Referendum C.

Senate minority leader Josh Penry, R-Fruita, pointed out that Republicans don't believe the state's budget crisis is tied to TABOR in any case.

"TABOR has zero impact on the budget cuts we will be forced to make this year," Penry told the Post. "Those are due entirely to the economy."

But at least some Democrats think tough economic times might be the most appropriate occasion to ask voters to re-think TABOR.

"There are those of us who say, 'Why don't we, while there isn't a TABOR refund, look at floating an issue back to the voters,'" House majority leader Paul Weissman, D-Louisville, told the Post.

A spokesperson for Gov. Bill Ritter has confirmed that Ritter's aides have discussed TABOR changes with legislators. The governor himself suggested it during his State of the State address earlier this month.

TABOR was added to the state constitution in 1992.