Bill to change TABOR passes House on party-line vote

DENVER — An expected death in the Colorado Senate of a bill to change the way the state’s revenue cap is figured didn’t stop the Colorado House on Thursday from approving a bill mostly along party lines to do so.

That measure, introduced by Rep. Dan Thurlow, ended up losing more Republican votes as discussions over it went on, even with one of its co-sponsors, Rep. Phil Corvarrubias, R-Brighton, removing his name from the bill.

In the end, only Thurlow and one other Republican, Rep. Lois Landgraf of Fountain, sided with the 37 Democrats favoring it.

Instead of calculating the revenue cap under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights based on inflation and population growth, Thurlow’s bill would tie it to a percentage of average personal incomes.

Doing so would allow the state to retain more tax revenues than it does now without raising current tax rates, Thurlow said.

But while the Grand Junction Republican says his measure doesn’t attempt to amend TABOR, opponents continue to argue that the real solution is to prioritize better.

“I’m urging you to stop now and don’t eviscerate TABOR,” said Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone. “What would follow that is going to be inedible, and our families are going to pay the price for us not prioritizing the budget.”

Rep. Timothy Leonard, R-Evergreen, said there’s never going to be enough money in the state budget for some people’s taste.

But Thurlow said that the measure does just what TABOR allows: ask the voters what they think and let the chips fall where they may.

Thurlow said that several outside conservative groups have continued to push against the idea, and told lawmakers they should first listen to their own constituents.

“The issue before us is merely to examine the procedures and decide if the voters agree with you that we’re spending too much money,” he said to Leonard. “If they do they’ll vote no at the ballot box. That’s all this measure does, is send an issue to the voters to decide exactly those kinds of questions.”

The measure now heads to the Senate, where another Republican, Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, will try to get it approved.

That’s not expected to happen, though, especially now that Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, has expressed his opposition to it.


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