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‘Vote on Fees’ measure makes November ballot

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Derek Draplin | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – An initiative to require voter approval of some state enterprises that draw their revenue from fees has been approved for the November ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Monday.  

Colorado Rising State Action, the conservative advocacy group backing the Initiative 295turned in more than 196,000 signatures in July, with 138,852 of those signatures being valid, the office said. The measure needed 124,632 valid signatures to make the ballot.

Taxpayer advocacy groups argue that lawmakers have used fees to avoid being subject to the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), a constitutional amendment that requires all tax increase be approved by voters. Under TABOR, state enterprise funds aren’t subject to TABOR’s revenue cap.

“It’s official, Coloradans will get to vote on strengthening TABOR this November,” Colorado Rising State Action Executive Director Michael Fields said in a statement. “State lawmakers have abused enterprise fees for years as a method to increase revenue and get around asking voters. It’s really simple, voters just want to be asked.”

The measure, also called “Vote on Fees,” would require voter approval for any new state enterprises that are projected to collect more than $100 million in fees or surcharges in its initial five years.

“The measure has no direct impact on state revenue,” a fiscal report on the measure said. “To the extent that the measure stops the creation or qualification of state enterprises, it may reduce the total amount of revenue collected in service charges paid to government-owned businesses.”

Voters will also decide on measures to reintroduce gray wolves to the state’s Western Slope and whether to reduce the statewide income tax rate, among other ballot measures.

The State Income Tax Rate Reduction initiative, which qualified for the ballot last week, proposes to reduce the state income tax from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent.

Last month, backers on a progressive income tax measure failed to collect enough signatures to make the November ballot.