Proposition 117 would require that the creation of certain state enterprises go to the voters for approval. The programs would need to have projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges expected to exceed $100 million within the first five years. In 2018, the state had 16 programs that qualified as enterprises, seven of which made more than $100 million in the first five years, according to the Blue Book. Advocates of this measure also support the measure seeking to cut Colorado’s income tax rate.
The case for: The measure would require voter approval for enterprises that charge fees, which advocates say will strengthen the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and government oversight by citizens. Voters, through TABOR, are already required to approve any new tax increases, but this measure will require that voters do the same for fees, forcing lawmakers not to rely on them. According to the Common Sense Institute, 69% of the state’s spending was exempt from TABOR in 2019 compared to 46% in 1993.
The case against: Enterprise fees are collected to fund specific purposes tied to the fee collection. Requiring voter approval before they can be used would restrict state lawmakers’ funding of essential programs and operations, including for school districts. It would also increase the workload and costs for state agencies and county clerks to estimate revenues and add more ballot measures, according to opponents.
Ballot question: “Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring statewide voter approval at the next even-year election of any newly created or qualified state enterprise that is exempt from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado constitution, if the projected or actual combined revenue from fees and surcharges of the enterprise, and all other enterprises created within the last five years that serve primarily the same purpose, is greater than $100 million within the first five fiscal years of the creation or qualification of the new enterprise?”
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