(The Center Square) – Colorado Democrats are looking to keep billions in tax revenue rather than refunding the money to taxpayers, The Denver Post reported.
Under Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), taxpayers see refunds when the state's revenue grows faster than its population growth plus inflation.
A recent economic analysis from the nonpartisan Legislative Council Staff showed that Colorado is expected to exceed its budget cap by $2 billion over the next three years, while the governor’s budget staff published a more optimistic forecast, saying the excess tax funds could reach $3 billion.
“We’re going to see dollars that certainly could be utilized for our budget priorities going back in ways that aren’t as tailored, as focused,” Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, told The Post. “When we can make additional investments in those needs and services, it feels like the responsible thing to do.”
Colorado voters in recent years have rejected allowing state government to permanently keep their tax refunds.
Democrats do have some options on the table as TABOR doesn't limit lawmakers' use of “enterprise funds” funded by fees, which they have taken advantage of in recent sessions.
Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, who sits on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC), told The Post that Democrats have a "list of options" of adjustments they can make to these funds in order to keep the money.
Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, who also sits on the JBC, questioned the need for retaining the tax revenue when the state's budget has been injected with federal stimulus dollars from the pandemic.
“That’s an awful lot of money, and covers these same three years,” Rankin told The Post. “So why should we find clever ways to defeat TABOR when in fact we have all that federal money there?”