TABOR is a constitutional amendment passed in 1992 that, among other things, limits the annual growth of a portion of the state budget to a formula of population growth plus inflation. The state is obligated to refund excess revenue back to taxpayers, or get voter consent to keep it temporarily.
But the forthcoming ballot measure would eliminate what’s left of the TABOR spending limit, allowing the state to keep all excess revenues that would otherwise be refunded back to taxpayers in perpetuity. If a permanent end to refunds sounds like a tough sell given Colorado’s ever-growing state budget, you’re not alone.
“The state budget is huge and getting bigger each year,” says Michael Fields, executive director of Colorado Rising Action. “Putting this in perspective, 10 years ago the budget was $19 billion, now it’s $32.5 billion, so its gone up by over a billion dollars each year.” Fields notes that while Colorado’s population has grown by roughly 50 percent since TABOR was enacted, the state budget has grown by over 300 percent.
Fields recently sat down with Complete Colorado Editor-in-Chief Mike Krause on the public affairs TV show Devil’s Advocate (airs Friday nights at 8:30 on Colorado Public Television) to talk about the measure. That video is below.