DENVER - The name alone could cure insomnia: the Long-Term Fiscal Stability Commission.
This group of legislators and citizen experts met during the summer to discuss Colorado's budget crisis. Part of the
agenda, say supporters of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, was to lay the groundwork for a rewrite or repeal of
State agencies told the commission they need at least an extra $2.5 billion a year. The commission also backed a
University of Denver idea to create a special group that could propose wide-ranging constitutional reforms.
We have to win the P.R. battle, and we're probably going to have to win it in 2011, when there is some sort of massive
ballot measure that we will all be battling," said Amy Oliver Cooke, a conservative radio host who served on the
Long-Term Fiscal Stability Commission.
Gov. Bill Ritter has targeted 2011 as the year to take the budget crisis to voters. Business and political leaders are
discussing the details behind closed doors.
Carol Hedges of the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute said there are four basic ideas:
b Do another Referendum C, the 2005 ballot initiative that gave the state a five-year break from TABOR's revenue
limits. This might have a limited effect, though, because the state budget probably won't hit the TABOR limit until
b Make the constitution harder to amend.
b Untangle TABOR and two other voter-approved parts of the constitution - the Gallagher amendment, which keeps home
property taxes low; and Amend-ment 23, which requires increased spending on schools. The three together have forced the
state to pay more for local schools, which now take 43 cents out of every dollar in the state's general fund.
b Forget about changing
TABOR and ask for a tax increase. Hedges favors this approach. The state needs money for its colleges, roads and
health-care programs, she said.
We're in the camp that says, look, TABOR is not our problem right now. We are not up against the limits," Hedges
Whatever happens, Ritter has made clear he will back a campaign only in 2011 - a year after his re-election race.