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Politics and Government

Federal appeals court to consider future of lawsuit over Colorado’s TABOR

The 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that tax increases be approved by voters

Two women walk up the steps on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, on Oct. 16, 2018. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider whether a long-running lawsuit challenging Colorado’s strict tax and spending limits as unconstitutional can proceed.

Colorado Politics reports that a nine-judge panel will consider on Monday a review of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 by group of elected officials.

The 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that tax increases be approved by voters. It also requires the state to refund tax revenue that exceeds a figure determined by a formula based on inflation and population growth.


Its challengers say the voter-approved state constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees a republican form of government in each state where elected officials — the Legislature — make decisions.

Critics of the amendment known as TABOR also contend it has starved state government of funds necessary to adequately pay for education, transportation and other priorities in the fast-growing state.

In 2017, U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore dismissed the suit, finding the plaintiffs didn’t prove they were harmed by TABOR and thus had no standing to challenge it in court. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit reversed that finding in 2019. Gov. Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser subsequently appealed to the entire 10th Circuit.

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