The Colorado Supreme Court issued a ruling Monday that allows a proposed ballot initiative to repeal the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to proceed.
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, known as TABOR, a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1992 that requires voter approval for all tax increases and limits government spending.
A ballot measure proposal to overturn TABOR was rejected in February by the state’s Title Board, which initially said the measure violates the state constitution’s single-subject requirement.
The proposal, Initiative No. 3, is backed by the liberal-leaning Colorado Fiscal Institute, which has long advocated against TABOR.
“Applying settled principles for determining whether a proposed initiative constitutes a single subject, the court now reverses the Title Board,” the Colorado Supreme Court wrote. “The court concludes that the initiative, which would ask voters the single question of whether the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights should be repealed, constitutes a single subject.”
The ballot measure now goes back to the Title Board and proponents of the initiative can collect the signatures to get it on the ballot.
The Bell Policy Center, which is often aligned with the Colorado Fiscal Institute on tax and fiscal issues, praised the decision in a statement. The center said TABOR has restricted “competitiveness and limited opportunities for generations of Coloradans.”
"The Colorado Supreme Court just delivered a much-needed breath of fresh air with its decision," said Scott Wasserman, the center’s president. "With this ruling, we now have a simple and practical opinion that says although there are many moving parts, TABOR itself is a single subject unto its own and Coloradans should have the right to vote on it."
Conservative groups pledged to fight for TABOR in comments after the ruling.
“TABOR is so wide-ranging, it’s clear the courts got this one wrong. Not to mention, voting on tax increases and controlling the size of government is extremely popular among Coloradans across the board – we’ll take on this and any other fight in which groups of activists try to destroy the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights,” said Michael Fields, executive director of the conservative advocacy group Colorado Rising Action.
Jesse Mallory, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, said, "Politicians and big government organizations have been calling for an end to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights for years. Now they get their chance to try to convince the people of Colorado that they don’t deserve to vote on tax increases – a right AFP firmly believes Coloradans’ should have. Every elected official in Colorado will have the opportunity to publicly state which side they fall on."
Voters will also decide in 2019 if the state government should be allowed to keep TABOR-granted refunds.
A coalition group called “No on CC,” which includes Colorado Rising Action, has formed in opposition to that ballot initiative, which was approved by the state legislature.