In a piece yesterday outlining the partisan agendas at the state legislature, Denver Post reporter John Frank reported that state Senate and House Republicans are unified in wanting to return tax-surplus funds to taxpayers, as stipulated by TABOR.
Frank wrote Democrats are split on the issue, noting that Senate Democrat Morgan Carroll “supports a move to seek voter approval to spend the money if it comes from an outside ballot initiative effort.”
For perspective, reporters covering this apparent impasse should seek opinions of partisan leaders away from the Capitol, including the bipartisan leaders of Referendum C, which was approved by voters in 2005 and allowed Colorado to hold on to funds that would otherwise have been returned to taxpayers under TABOR.
Opinions from outside-the-dome could be surprising. In an interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton said he was open to not returning TABOR refunds:
Warner: “You were a vocal critic of Amendment 66, which would have raised taxes to pay for education. In the way that you got involved with that, would you throw your support behind something that you felt was responsible and meant the state held on to the TABOR refunds?”
Stapleton: “Absolutely. TABOR is the popular whipping post, but Gallagher and Amendment 23 have also created a Gordian Knot of automatic ratchets in the budget and we need to free ourselves of automatic ratchets and get more control over where we spend dollars and more results-oriented spending for our budget going forward in the future. But I’m not opposed reflexively to anything, other than I’m opposed to anything that doesn’t give taxpayers a voice in where their money is being spent.”
Stapleton also said: “The more hopeful way to look at it is, if we in government do a good job and do our jobs in hopefully explaining to people where money is going to go and why resources are needed, that people will be reasonable enough to support fixes to our budget problems in Colorado.”