Steamboat Springs If the art of taxation is to pluck a goose so that you get maximum feathers with minimum squawking, one state official says Colo-rado is putting feathers back on the goose.
Charlie Brown, the executive director of the Colorado Legislative Council, made that analogy to county officials from across the state who gathered in Steamboat Springs this week for the Colorado Counties Inc. summer conference.
Brown said that legislators are focused on finding ways to give excess state revenues back to the taxpayers. One of those ways is tax cuts, and the Legislature referred one measure to the ballot this November that would give senior citizens a tax break on property taxes.
A ballot question initiated by anti-tax crusader Douglas Bruce would also reduce property taxes. Bruce authored the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, which requires governments to return excess revenues to taxpayers.
Several politicians at a CCI panel discussion took the opportunity to point out weaknesses in Bruce's latest initiative, called the new TABOR.
Bruce reportedly wants to reduce each taxpayer's property tax bill by $25 and increase that reduction each year by $25. Senate President Ray Powers said he doesn't know where the money will come from to make up the lost revenue.
"It's more onerous than anyone can imagine. He says that it increases to account for inflation, but it's more than that," Powers said.
Powers said the passage of the new TABOR measure would eliminate $200 million in funding for the TRANS bill passed last year to improve state highways.
Powers pointed out that the General Assembly this year lowered the sales tax to 2.9 percent and reduced income tax revenues by $530 million in the last two years.
"We've done a good job of cutting back and getting to the level that TABOR allows," Powers said.
The next step for state legislators is to develop a comprehensive tax policy. The final report on a tax study is due in December 2001.
"As we develop the tax policy there's a challenge for all of us to support the services requested by the constituents we represent," said Paul Schauer, a former state representative.
"I hope the study tells us where we are and where we're going and comes out with recommendations to create a fair and equitable tax policy," Schauer added.
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