Time for changes to TABOR, A23 | AspenTimes.com

Time for changes to TABOR, A23

Aspen Times writer

Dear Editor:Club 20, the coalition of individuals, businesses and local governments in Colorado’s 22 western counties, supports limited changes to Colorado’s constitutional fiscal constraints: TABOR and the K-12 funding mandate, Amendment 23. These two constitutional mandates have had, and will continue to have, huge impacts on the ability of our state and local governments to provide basic services. A23 mandates that the state continue to spend an increasing percent of its declining budget on K-12 education, and TABOR limits both the ability of the government to spend and grow.While Club 20 has long supported the basic tenets of TABOR, we recognize that the TABOR limits, coupled with the mandated spending requirements of A23 and the unprecedented recession which we have just experienced, has created a fiscal stranglehold on both our local and state governments. As you have noted in the past, Club 20 is part of a citizens’ coalition that supports a ballot initiative to make minor amendments to both TABOR and Amendment 23. I’d like to address a couple of points about this initiative that have been raised recently.First, the citizens’ initiative will allow local and state government services to recover as the economy recovers.While it was the recession and not TABOR that created the unprecedented revenue shortfall that our state has experienced in the past two years, it is TABOR that will prevent state and local government services (from higher education to highways) from recovering along with the economy. In January of next year, the stock market will be up, unemployment will be down, and yet our state Legislature will be struggling with the challenge of cutting our state budget by another $250 million as a result of TABOR.Second, the initiative does not gut TABOR and it does not ignore Amendment 23; it addresses both issues in a reasonable and balanced approach.While TABOR restricts our state’s ability to recover from the recession, Amendment 23 has hamstrung our elected representatives’ ability to deal with these declining revenues. It is necessary that both of these measures be amended if we are to restore the vitality of our state. The initiative preserves the basic tenets of TABOR and A23, while providing state and local governments the ability to maintain and restore essential services.It was Club 20’s desire that the Legislature would pass a referendum to put this important issue before the voters and thereby avoid the need for any citizens’ initiative. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts and weeks of negotiations during the regular session, the Legislature was unsuccessful in passing such a measure. It is our continued hope that, under the able leadership of Gov. Owens, the Legislature can come together in a special session this summer and craft such a bi-partisan solution to this fiscal challenge. When and if that happens, Club 20 will be at the front of the line supporting such a referendum. Reeves BrownClub 20 executive director

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