State TBD plan calls for reform, more revenue

Framers of Hickenlooper’s TBD initiative say current fiscal structure can’t be maintained

Leaders of TBD Colorado say the key finding of the initiative is that Colorado’s economy is “unsustainable without major fiscal and constitutional reforms.”

The eight-member board of directors of To Be Determined Colorado released its recommendations Wednesday to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who established the initiative to determine a grand plan for the state.

The board based its recommendations on 70 public meetings with 1,200 Coloradans across the state during the last year. The initiative, which had a budget of $1.2 million and was funded by donations, focused on five issues: education, health, transportation, state budget and state workforce.

Opponents of TBD Colorado said the initiative was a way for Hickenlooper to lay the groundwork for a tax increase. While the recommendations do not directly call for tax increases, it does say revenue options have to be weighed against public services Coloradans want.

“Our state has endless positive potential. Important, forward-facing actions and decisions must be made to ensure a vibrant future,” said TBD Colorado Board Chairman Greg Maffei in a news release. “Analysts from across the political spectrum may disagree on the proper course for the state, but they agree that the current fiscal structure cannot be maintained.”

One of the board’s recommendations for the state budget is to simplify the tax code and change it so it “more accurately reflects Colorado’s changing economy.”

Other recommendations for the state budget include:

Consider revenue increases and undertake initiatives that save money and increase efficiency, such as when the state combined the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation.

Create a commission to periodically review the state constitution and recommend changes; set a higher bar for new amendments by increasing the number of signatures required for ballot access.

Consider mill levy increases and sales and severance taxes to finance higher education; expand the number of children in the Colorado Preschool Program, and increase the availability of full-day kindergarten.

Consider legislation to expand home and community-based services to the elderly and people with disabilities.

Secure funding for transit projects such as an inter-regional bus service.

Educate the public about transportation funding and Colorado’s aging infrastructure.

Hickenlooper called the initiative a success.

“We have never before seen a statewide community engagement on this level in Colorado,” he said in the news release. “We know the path is not easy, but we are committed to building on this effort to help seek the right changes for Colorado.”

jdahl@durangoherald.com

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story