by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Colorado voters Tuesday rejected a ballot question that would have let the state increase its revenues by keeping monies that are over collected.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, is a law that caps state spending every year using a formula based on population and inflation. Monies collected in excess of that spending limit are supposed to be returned. Proposition CC asked voters to let the state keep those over collections in perpetuity rather than cut refund checks or give the money back in other legally allowed ways.
The rejection of the measure may signal to Democratic presidential candidates that swing-state voters are reluctant to green light new taxes or spending programs.
The election was called by the Associated Press less than two hours after polls closed in the state. At the time, the measure was losing roughly 55-45 with dozens of counties still outstanding.
Although tax rates may remain unchanged, revenues to the state can surge when the economy is good, and if those revenues exceed what the state can legally spend under TABOR, the refund is triggered.
The revenue over the next three years that would be returned to voters is estimated to be between $1.2 and $1.5 billion, based on economic forecasts provided to the state legislature. Toward lower income tiers, the refunds in each of those years might be anywhere from $35 to $90, while upper income joint filers could see refunds between $750 and $1,000.