Beers expects tax cap amendment to die

Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, said Monday he expects his proposed tax-capping constitutional amendment to die in the Senate Finance Committee.

SJR5 would limit annual increases in every tax, fee and other revenue source collected by government to no more than inflation plus an adjustment for population growth. Any excess revenue would be returned to residents and only a vote of the people could exceed that rate of increase.

Beers said the so-called TABOR plan - Taxpayers Bill of Rights - has been successful in holding down taxes in Colorado for a decade.

But opponents argue it has been so restrictive that Colorado is in serious fiscal trouble and now planning to ask that voters suspend the restrictions for five years.

"It has led to a situation today in which the budget situation of Colorado state government is untenable," said Larry Struve of the Religious Alliance In Nevada .

He said conservative Republican Governor Bill Owens is supporting that ballot question as are both parties in the Colorado Legislature.

Struve said TABOR has resulted in damage to a long list of services in Colorado. He said Colorado's ranking in funding health care, prenatal care and higher education as well as other public services has fallen dramatically while the high school drop out rate has nearly doubled.

But Beers argued the proposed public vote shows that TABOR is working. He said the tax cap puts the question where it belongs - before the people of Colorado rather than the Legislature.

He said the funding problems in Colorado were created by another public vote to increase funding for public schools without specifying where that money would come from. He said a similar situation was unlikely in Nevada since this state already requires any initiative which mandates spending to identify a funding source.

But he admitted the measure isn't likely to get out of Senate Finance since it's possible the only votes for the measure will be himself and Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Fellow Republican Dean Rhoads of Tuscarora confirmed he will vote against the bill in committee.

"I think that's why the people elected us, to make those decisions," he said.

And Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, who chairs the Finance Committee, said he is "not convinced it's necessary."

He said he would like to control governmental growth but he isn't sure SJR5 is the best way to do that.

"But at this point, I'm undecided," he said.

The three Democrats on the committee, Bob Coffin and Minority Leader Dina Titus of Las Vegas and Bernice Mathews of Sparks, have all questioned whether SJR5 is in the state's best interest.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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