Colorado AG supports amending Taxpayer Bill of Rights

John Suthers

DENVER (Legal Newsline)-Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is throwing his political muscle behind a proposal that would repeal the state's constitutionally mandated school funding requirement. Backed in the state Legislature by House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, and supported by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, the proposal would repeal voter-approved Amendment 23, which requires an increase in education spending annually regardless of the state's fiscal health. Suthers said if enacted, the bill will help lawmakers restrain from profligate state spending and stop them from raiding special funds to help make ends meet when the state comes upon lean times. "Let's provide an opportunity for a vigorous six months of debate about whether this is the right thing to move forward," Suthers, a Republican, was quoted Friday by the Denver Post as saying. The Suthers-backed plan would also jettison portions of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR amendment, which limits tax increases to a formula based on inflation and the state's population. Proponents want future tax surpluses to be funneled into a rainy-day fund for schools. Currently, revenue collected above the TABOR cap is refunded to taxpayers. Legislation outlining the measure, dubbed the Savings Account For Education, is expected to be introduced Friday. The bill would need two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate to be placed on the November ballot. Opposed to the plan is House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, and many of his fellow Republicans. "This is just an opportunity for government to get its hands deeper into taxpayer pockets," state Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, was quoted by the Denver Post as saying. "I think it will face real skepticism from voters who have heard this before: 'Just give us a little more money,'" Mitchell added. From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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