Letter: Vote yes on Proposition 117
Most voters don’t even know what this proposition refers to. What is an enterprise in government lingo? I didn’t know until this appeared on the ballot. It’s a business set up, owned and managed by the government. It charges user fees for services provided. It can issue revenue bonds.
But the real reason we should pay attention is that they are used to set up government entities that can circumvent the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, commonly referred to as TABOR. And it’s a huge tool used by bureaucrats for that purpose and they make up 20% of the state’s total budget. That means 1/5 of the state budget does not comply with TABOR regulations.
Since the adoption of TABOR, voters have approved only a total of 3 statewide tax revenue increases, however, during that same time, the state legislature has created 15 new enterprises, resulting in fees to Coloradans and new revenue to the state, without a direct vote of the people. In fiscal year 2018, total revenue collected from enterprise fees totaled $17.9 billion.
Proposition 117, if passed, would require voter approval to create new state government enterprises that would generate fee revenue of over $100 million during the first five fiscal years.
Currently there are 16 government programs that qualify as state enterprises with seven having annual fee revenue of over $100M. The state uses enterprises to grow its budget without voter approval.
That’s a problem. We approved TABOR to require voter approval for tax increases only to be outmaneuvered. This is a fee structure used to high-jack the requirement for tax approval. Just an FYI, since 2008, total revenue from enterprise fees has grown four times faster than general fund revenue.
My only question is why we aren’t outlawing them all together or at least setting the bar lower. But at least, this is a start. A yes vote at least sets some limits. Vote yes on Proposition 117.
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