The TABOR/23 long-term financial straightjacket

Filed under: Opinion |

This week, the Colorado Bankers Association made an uncharacteristic move by speaking out on a non-banking matter that has a significant impact on the Colorado economy by sending the below letter to elected officials.

CBA takes this unusual step of speaking out on a non-banking matter since our member banks are very concerned about the damage being done to our state, its people, and its economy by the Constitutional straightjacket of restrictions and mandates – creating an escalating fiscal crisis. We feel so strongly about obtaining the needed reform that it has become CBA’s No. 1 priority in the 2005 Legislature. Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “TABOR” (a successful spending limit), and Amendment 23′s constitutionally mandated K-12 education outlays (increasing faster than TABOR’s expenditure limit) both have substantial value and popular support. We believe moderate changes are necessary to restore fiscal flexibility so the Legislature actually can make prudent spending decisions.

While bankers are skilled at balanced budgets, we don’t pretend to know the ideal political solution for TABOR/23. It is clear Coloradans like to vote on tax issues and that this process is a good discipline, but constitutional rules for fiscal decisions have become unworkable. More annual stop-gap measures are inadequate; the long-term solution is paramount. Bankers all over the state see daily the damage to education, transportation, and economic viability – as businesses and jobs go elsewhere, where they get these fundamentals.

We make an open offer to underscore the critical need to resolve the issue. We support any fix that appears it can obtain a two-thirds vote in both Legislative chambers. We’ll leave the design to those most capable of that (our state’s elected leaders), knowing that to obtain two-thirds support it will have to be both moderate and bipartisan. We will push that with grassroots lobbying of legislators to support a sensible proposal, and financial and other resources for a political campaign to urge adoption of the fix on the general ballot. We encourage other business and local government groups to do something similar to rally public officials of both parties to find the needed middle ground. We plan to coordinate with many of those groups. All Coloradans need to be responsible for solving this serious problem.

The consensus within CBA is to help fix the broken fiscal house for government in Colorado. We would never lend to a family or business that operated the way TABOR and 23 dictate: limited (often reduced) spending, income in excess of those limits refunded, and an ever increasing single expense (albeit important), forcing all other costs to be covered by less and less resources. This is no way to run a household, a business or a government. Many add Gallagher and business personal property tax to the list needing repair. They need attention, but we believe the priority must be fixing the TABOR/23 long-term financial straightjacket. It’s essential.

Respectfully,

THE COLORADO BANKERS

ASSOCIATION

Don A. Childears, CBA President/CEO

e-mail: don@coloradobankers.org

The Colorado Bankers Association represents the wide spectrum of Colorado banks, ranging from the smallest to the largest banks. CBA provides government relations, community relations, banker education and information, and bank insurance and other miscellaneous services. The mission of the CBA is to improve the high quality of the Colorado banking industry and to enhance its ability to compete effectively and profitably.