Questions about Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and state enterprise funds
“Memo muddles hospital fee effort; Cadman says a TABOR exemption is unconstitutional,” Jan. 7 news story; and “Yet more trouble for state budget,” Jan. 8 editorial.
The hair-splitting continues between the branches of state government regarding the definition of an enterprise for the purposes of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The discussion is way down in the weeds, with one side focusing on what theoretically constitutes an enterprise and the other on the crippling result of applying the TABOR status quo.
In fiscal year 1993, the year after TABOR was passed, state enterprise fund revenues were approximately 4.5 percent of total state revenues. By fiscal year 2014, conversions had grown that to about 28.4 percent. While passing the legal test, many of the current enterprises fail the man-on-thestreet “smell test.”
Before we convert the entire state to enterprise funds, shouldn’t we reconsider the state’s early TABOR decision to have the General Fund pay all refunds? If instead every cash fund and enterprise fund had to pay its own excess revenue refunds, the citizens and special interests those funds represent — such as higher education, business/unemployment insurance, hunters/ parks and wildlife, hospitals, and transportation — would likely be clamoring for real TABOR reform rather than yet another legislative fix to “manage” the problem.
Lakewood The writer is a former Colorado state controller.
BBB There is a simple solution to the ongoing debate and argument regarding TABOR and the use of hospital provider fees. The anti-TABOR faction would like the courts to decide the issue, while the proTABOR advocates (myself included) believe it is a settled question and converting the $750 million to an enterprise fund is an absolute violation of the TABOR amendment.
The beauty of TABOR is the fact that the final decision could lie in the hands of the voters. The voters are and should be the ultimate decision makers. The anti-TABOR group does not want to put the issue before the voters because the outcome is pretty much predictable and they would lose the argument. Conversely, if the courts ruled against the pro-TABOR group, the result would be a protracted set of court appeals. Neither option provides a speedy solution.
It may take a year, but letting the voters decide will render the quickest and most doubtfree decision.