Senate leaders today moved a bill off the calendar that would, if passed, put a referendum on the ballot in November’s General Election to lower the cap on the income tax rate in the state Constitution.
Senate Bill 817 would put the choice to voters to decide whether to lower the current ten percent Constitutional income tax rate cap to 5.5 percent, starting in 2017. After being approved in committee Tuesday, however, the Senate moved a vote on the legislation to June 25, a Saturday.
The Senate does not generally meet on Saturdays leaving the question open if the bill will see a vote.
The bill is the latest move in a rising call for states to install legislation to limit the taxing and spending of state governments.
A more extensive bill passed during the Long Session last year that would have capped income tax at 5 percent, among other provisions.
The current state income tax rate is 5.75 percent but is scheduled to fall to 5.499 percent in 2017, below the planned 5.5 percent threshold.
During the Long Session last year the Senate passed a bill to install taxpayer protections that would have put a series of amendments into the state Constitution, including an income tax cap.
The bill, entitled the Taxpayer Protection Act (TPA), never saw a vote last session after being parked by the House in their Finance committee.
The TPA would have put a referendum vote on the 2016 presidential primary election ballot.
The bill faced opposition from Democrats in the Senate but the Republicans had the vote to overcome the opposition.
The bill from 2015 went further than SB 817.
The 2015 legislation would have put three proposed constitutional amendments on statewide ballots in March to limit state spending growth, cap the state income tax rate and create an emergency reserve fund.
Proponents of the Taxpayer Protection Act say that it gives voters a chance to decide whether to approve protections against over-taxation and wasteful government spending in the state Constitution.
Opponents say the plan could leave the state in a tough spot in the face of possible new federal mandates.
The provisions would have been implemented over four years, beginning in 2016 until 2020.
A number of states already have constitutional protections for taxpayers including Colorado, which put their TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) in place in 1992.
Colorado’s TABOR included a plan to refund excess revenue to the taxpayers, and to require voter approval for tax increases.
Under the program more than $2 billion was returned to taxpayers but the program was suspended in 2005 when voters approved a measure loosening many of the TABOR provisions.
The new provisions allowed the state to spend the excess revenue from 2006 until 2011 and then the spending was set at a cap.