Out of Control Policy Blog

Colorado's TABOR Turns Ten

National Review takes a look at Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) on its 10th anniversary:

    "TABOR possesses two features which have generated a great deal of tax relief for Colorado residents during the past decade. First, TABOR places a tight cap on all state expenditures, limiting increases in per capita state expenditures to the inflation rate. Second, it mandates immediate
    refunds of all surplus revenues. As a result, when the state collects revenues above the limit set by TABOR, Colorado taxpayers are entitled to a rebate. Overall, between 1997 and 2002, Colorado has reduced taxes more than any other state, issuing annual tax rebates that have totaled more than $3.2 billion.

    . . . .

    In addition to providing tax relief and fostering economic growth, TABOR has also forced Colorado residents to see the costs inherent in government programs. In other states, residents often support higher government spending because they can see the benefits of a particular program, but remain blissfully unaware of the costs that they and other taxpayers will be forced to bear.

    However, in Colorado the annual tax rebates brings these tradeoffs clearly into focus. In every year from 1993 to 1999 there was a proposal on the ballot to either raise taxes or increase spending in excess of the TABOR limit. Knowing these initiatives would markedly reduce the size of their annual tax rebate, voters soundly defeated each of these measures. In 2001, for the record, an initiative to increase spending for Colorado schools did pass. However, Colorado taxpayers still received tax rebates totaling more than $900 million from fiscal 2001 revenues."

For more on TABOR, check out the Independence Institute's Celebration of TABOR page.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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