Wed November 14, 2012

TBD Task Force Issues Recommendations

A group tasked with tackling the state’s largest challenges says Colorado needs to reform the constitution and discuss putting more money into schools and roads.

The report from Governor John Hickenlooper’s TBD initiative concludes that Colorado is on an unsustainable financial path.

State Capitol Reporter Bente Birkeland reports for All Things Considered.

TBD stands for “To Be Determined” and is the brainchild of the Governor. Over the last several months the TBD group has held meetings across the state on a wide range of topics including healthcare, education, transportation, the budget and state workforce.

“We wanted to have constructive and collaborative discussions, not have preconceived idea,” says Governor Hickenlooper.

The final recommendations say conflicting parts of the Colorado constitution such as Amendment 23, which requires more spending, and the TABOR amendment, which restricts revenue cannot continue to coexist.

Greg Maffei is the CEO of Liberty Media and chaired the TBD board. Maffei says the state’s tax structure isn’t keeping up with the needs.

“Many of the fastest growing sectors are either exempt from tax or are taxed at a lower rate than other sectors. Even though Colorado’s revenues are now increasing as the economy begins to recover, the state will be unable to grow its way out of the coming fiscal gridlock unless structural changes are made.”

But the report is vague on what those changes should look like and Governor Hickenlooper would not commit to anything specific. He did say it will take a lot more discussion to get the public on board with any big changes.

“The voters of Colorado will have the final say in any dramatic tax policy changes. The more facts we can give them and the more we can hear them the higher the probability that we’ll get to a desired outcome.”

In the past, Hickenlooper has said it’s impossible to raise taxes until people feel government is operating efficiently and not wasting the money it already has. Lawmakers will read the full report in early December. It’s not clear what the next steps are after that.