Colorado reforms also discussed at Club 20

Kelly Sloan, The Business Times

An effort called Build a Better Colorado is under way to address what organizers see as structural problems in Colorado, including fiscal policy reform, the ballot initiative process and electoral reform.

Reeves Brown, a former director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and former executive director of Club 20, introduced the effort and facilitated discussions at the Club 20 fall meeting in Grand Junction.

“We found a problem in this state is a disconnect between the governed and the government,” Reeves said. “The goal is to try to make them feel more connected.”

In three breakout sessions, one for each of the topics being tackled, participants discussed proposed solutions and offered their own ideas. Resulting solutions were voted on and tabulated to help organizers come up with possible future campaigns.

Brown said he was surprised by some of the results.

“Eighty-eight percent said the status quo was unacceptable,” he reported. “Ninety-six percent said they were in favor of change to the initiative process. Five years ago, it would not have polled that high.”

Ideas for changes to the initiative process included a requirement for geographic representation during the signature gathering phase.

Ideas for fiscal reforms included changes that would allow the state to keep tax revenues above state constitutional limits, with some flexibility. Brown said other ideas included changing the revenue limit to “something more realistic.”

“Something that keeps the government in check without shrinking it. That is more reflective of the true cost of government,” he said.

Skeptics of the plan are concerned proposed fiscal reforms would constitute an end run around the taxing and spending limits imposted by the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR).

The Club 20 board of directors also voted at the fall meeting to support a number of resolutions, including the expanded use of public and private partnerships to address infrastructure needs, an increase in the state gasoline tax to fund transportation projects and reclassifying a state hospital provider fee to remove it from TABOR limits.