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CU Student Government approved a bill 10-4 Thursday night that expresses their opinion that the state should repeal Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, well-known as TABOR.
Under TABOR, which passed on Colorado’s 1992 ballot, if any state or local revenue exceeds an allowed amount of government spending, the excess money must be returned to taxpayers. According to the Colorado Department of the Treasury, the state has returned more than $2 billion to taxpayers because of the provision.
That money, student government argues, could be funding higher education.
“It really is necessary to repeal it if we want to change the funding picture at CU,” said Walker Williams, a law student at CU and graduate and professional studies liaison to student government. “We’re trying to make a statement that we believe the current level of state funding to CU is unacceptable.”
Student government heard from six students who urged the council to pass the bill expressing discontent with TABOR during their weekly meeting. Legislative Council discussed the bill into the 10 p.m. hour.
Advocates of small government have pushed TABOR in upwards of 30 states, but Colorado is the only state to have adopted it, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. All eyes have been on Colorado’s subsequent drop-off in public services since adopting the provision just over two decades ago.
“TABOR limits are the strictest revenue and spending limits in the nation,” Great Education Colorado, a nonpartisan organization, says on their website. “Most voters were not aware of the strangling effect TABOR would have on basic government services.”
The New York Times noted on Jan. 30 that Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is, “generally considered the tightest cap on spending and taxation in the nation.”
There is a major lawsuit underway challenging the constitutionality of the provision because it limits government spending and right to oversee taxes without public referendum, which, 33 plaintiffs say, calls for a more direct democracy the framers’ republican ideal.
Should people paying taxes decide the government’s spending amount and when taxes should be raised? The framers argued that a government made through representatives of the people, or republican democracy, would avoid that dilemma. James Madison, specifically, argued that populous needed a filter representatives.
For Vice President of External Affairs Tyler Quick, the repeal of TABOR is essentially about allowing the government to fund important programs, like education. More people would be able to attend CU Boulder, he said, if tuition costs weren’t steep and rising each year. That problem, he argued on Thursday, could be addressed after repealing the provision limiting funding to state schools.
“The platform we were all elected on is we would do anything to lower tuition,” Quick said to the representatives. “So that’s why we have to do this.”
The issue is a hot topic, Quick said, and the generally Republican-supported amendment to the Colorado Constitution is likely to be challenged in the newly Democrat-controlled state legislature in the next year or two.
Contact CU Independent Copy Editor Alison Noon at Alison.email@example.com.