Mesa County Board of County Commissioners v. Colorado,
203 P.3d 519 (Colo. 2009)

Question: Does the Colorado Constitution allow School Financing Act amendments that increase taxes without voter approval?

What the Constitution Says: The Constitution requires that the voters must approve in advance a tax policy change that results in “a net tax revenue gain.”  Colo. Const. art X, § 20(4)(a).  This is called “the TABOR Amendment”, which stands for the “Taxpayer Bill of Rights”.

The Mullarkey Justices Disagree: Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey, Justice Michael Bender, Justice Alex Martinez, and Justice Nancy Rice decided not to give voters the right to approve or disapprove the School Financing Act amendments even though the tax policy change resulted in a $117.8 million net tax revenue gain (pp. 526 and 537).

Two Justices Criticize the Mullarkey Justices: The dissent by 2 other Justices criticized the Mullarkey Justices for denying Colorado voters their constitutional right to determine whether or not to okay tax increases (p. 540).

What Does the Mullarkey-Bender-Martinez-Rice Decision Mean for You?  The TABOR Amendment gives voters the constitutional right to decide whether or not the government in Colorado may take more taxes.  In Colorado, the government has to ask your permission to increase your taxes.  Your consent to raise taxes is required by the Colorado Constitution but it looks like Justices Mullarkey, Bender, Martinez, and Rice made a policy or political decision favoring unconstitutional taxation.

Additional Information and References

Read the entire published opinion: Mesa County Board of County Commissioners vs. State of Colorado


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