DALLAS - The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce soon whether it will hear a challenge to Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a state constitutional amendment that caps revenue for state and local government.
A Supreme Court ruling in the case of Kerr v. Hickenlooper would resolve plaintiffs' claims that the TABOR amendment violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of "a republican form of government."
"Colorado is the only state in the history of the Republic to strip its state and local elected officials of the power to tax and so limit their ability to spend," the plaintiffs argued in a recent filing with the court.
The plaintiffs are state lawmakers, including Democrats Sen. Andy Kerr and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst.
The TABOR amendment, approved in a 1992 voter referendum, limits state revenue to a formula based on inflation and population growth. If property values rise, the additional revenues generated by the existing tax rate must be returned to taxpayers.
The novel argument of plaintiffs is that bypassing elected representatives on tax questions denies the state's citizens a "republican form of government."
The majority Republican U.S. Supreme Court should decide in favor of TABOR and against the plaintiffs, according to the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council that crafts model legislation for state legislatures.
"The lower courts have made a mistake by ruling that the legislators may have a legitimate claim," according to ALEC.
The issue before the court is whether the claim is justiciable, according to ALEC. If the court decides in favor of the plaintiffs, the case will return to the district court level for adjudication.
"The Supreme Court should agree to review this case and make it clear that the Guarantee Clause cannot be used to invalidate taxpayer protections and give more power to state governments at the expense of their citizens," ALEC asserted.