The controversial Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, better known as TABOR, has undergone revisions again.
State Rep. Frank Lasee, R-Bellevue, the creator of TABOR, has changed his bill several times in order to gain more support from the legislature.
The most recent round of changes is not nearly as broad as those of the past. According to Lance Burri, spokesman for Lasee, the revisions were made chiefly to streamline TABOR.
“He was working for the last four to six years trying to improve it and trying to make it better and to produce something most people can accept,” Burri said. “One of the criticisms last session was that it was too long and too big, so he started looking for ways to streamline it. There are fewer specific requirements. There are more that will be left up to a future legislature to decide.”
Last session’s draft contained provisions about how to hold referendums. Lasee removed those stipulations, as the legislature is required to plan the referendum, and planning cannot be done in a constitutional amendment.
TABOR, a proposal to write government spending limits into the state constitution, would cap increases in taxes and government spending at the current levels. The caps would be indexed to inflation and population growth. Under TABOR, any increase in spending or taxes would have to be approved by a public referendum.
TABOR has received much criticism over the past year, and Lasee has made multiple revisions in response. In April, he made several changes, which included allowing governments the choice to adopt the previous year’s spending limit. This would prevent one year’s revenue problems from affecting budgets in the following years. Lasee also created a fund that would allow governments to put excess revenue into a fund for use in case of shortfalls.
Many people in the legislature are against TABOR in any form it may take. Some Democrats feel it would reduce and cut many state programs in the coming years.
“Democrats have serious concerns about the ability of municipalities, counties, universities and state government to function under TABOR,” said Senate Minority Leader Judith Robson, D-Beloit. “TABOR really means [taking] a break from responsibility. Legislators would be abdicating fiscal responsibility by putting a one-size-fits all tax policy in the constitution.”
Burri, however, says TABOR will allow spending to grow every year and that it would not take away from the decision-making process.
“We are going to always have to make decisions about what we spend that money on,” Burri said. “This isn’t going to change that. This will limit our overall spending.”
Majority Leader Dale Schultz has given Sen. Glenn Grothman, who defeated former Majority Leader Sen. Mary Panzer in September behind a strongly pro-TABOR message, the duty of crafting a TABOR bill to present to the state Senate.
“Whenever his committee feels it is appropriate to be brought to the floor for a possible vote, it will be,” said Todd Allbaugh, communications director for Sen. Schultz.
Grothman and his committee will start meeting in January.