Tag Archives: taxes

Oil and You

By: Joe Oglesby

You may be upset at high oil prices and profits, but amendment 58 is not the way to exact revenge. The amendment will hurt the property owners, which is not the oil companies; the amendment will also hurt local governments. Currently half of the severance tax revenue (approximately $122.5 million in FY 2008-09) goes to the Local Government Severance Tax Fund. Under Amendment 58, only 22 percent of the severance tax revenue would go into the local fund. The amendment earmarks funds that would go to local governments. The earmark, however, restricts the spending of these funds to environmental protection rather than allowing the local government to spend the money as the community needs it spent.

Over the summer, with the high gas prices, people began to understand that they could get to many places by riding a bike or using public transportation rather than driving their cars. “A result of record energy costs is that Americans have drastically cut back on their driving this year, reducing their gasoline usage at the fastest pace since 1983.” The article cited above also reported that the Federal Highway Administration latest statistics showed that the number of miles driven has dropped the most since 1979.

Colorado currently has higher taxes on oil and gas than Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. In oil producing states it has the third highest taxes. The graphs below are from a study that compares oil and gas tax burdens on nine producing states.

In gas producing states it has the fourth highest tax collections.

Under amendment 58 Colorado will move up to the second highest and nearly the highest tax collection. Amendment 58 and initiative 113 are the same; the only difference is that amendment 58 became the official title when it was added to the ballot.

Since Colorado’s taxes on oil and gas are progressive, the taxes will continually grow, as prices for these goods increase. These costs will be passed onto consumers. The temperature is forecasted to be almost 3% colder this winter, across the lower 48 states. Colder temperatures mean higher energy bills. These bills will also be compounded by an increase in taxes directly passed onto the consumer. These increases will not only be in personal energy consumption. Higher energy prices will mean that food transportation costs will go up. All of the higher prices will always fall to the consumer.

Amendment 58 is a tax increase and will directly affect the citizens unlike political ads may lead the people to believe. Removing a subsidy is a tax increase. Colorado, with the subsidy, pays some of the highest taxes. Oil and gas is a business. These businesses will recoup their losses. You will pay more for the oil and gas you need.

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Amendment Overview

By: Lance Thibert

Several recent developments have lightened the massive Colorado ballot, however there are sill a huge number of initiatives and amendments to be voted on.

First off, several amendments have been pulled from the ballot by their sponsors.

Amendment 53:Criminal Liability of Executives when their businesses are found liable for criminal conduct.

Amendment 55: Employers must find Just Cause to terminate the employment of a worker.

Amendment 56:Businesses employing 20+ employees must provide health insurance for employees and employee dependents, would also set up heath care oversight organization.

Amendment 57: Would require employers to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

These Amendments were primarily put forth by labor unions attempting to hit back against the backers of Amendment 47, the right to work initiative that would prohibit mandatory union membership. The reason the union sponsors pulled these amendments was that they reached an agreement with business groups, who agreed to raise 3 million dollars to opposed Amendment 47 in return for Amendments 53, 55, 56, an 57 to be dropped from the ballot.

 

“In an alliance born in part of fear, corporate executives across Colorado pledged to contribute at least $3 million to help organized labor defeat ballot measures that many in the business community might normally support. More than 75 chief executives — including the heads of major companies such as Xcel Energy Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. — agreed to donate money and time to the union cause.”

However, not all business leaders decided to throw their support behind labor.

“Not every business leader could stomach the compromise. Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, said he was glad to see the union-backed measures off the ballot. But he couldn’t bring himself to back labor’s ballot agenda. “We just wouldn’t do that,” he said.”

From: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122299027373800373.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

There are still a large amount of amendments on the ballot, I will provide the amendment, a brief description, and a “controversy rating”. These are my take on the amendments, with a bend towards the informative rather than my opinion. Bias however, can probably still be found.

 

Amendment: 46  “Discrimination and Preferential Treatment By Governments”

Description: Would make all affirmative action programs in the state of Colorado illegal, using the language of anti-discrimination. Ward Connerly is leading the fight for amendment 46 in Colorado, with similar initatives in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona and Nebraska.

Level of Controversy: High, as it effectively ends affirmative action in Colorado.

Amendment: 47  “Prohibition on Mandatory Labor Union Membership and Dues ”

Description:  Amendment 47 would prohibit unions from negotiating “union shop” contracts under which employees would be required to pay union membership. This is the infamous amendment that would effectively break union power in Colorado, well, whatever power it had to begin with. Business leaders oppose Amendment 47 as per the deal with the unions.

Level of Controversy: High, Millions have been, and will be spent for and against this Amendment.

Amendment: 48  “Definition Of Person”

Description: With both Bob Schaffer and Mark Udall against this amendment, and a large campaign to defeat it, the chances of it passing are low. However, legally defining a person as a fertilized egg has provoked a firestorm of controversy in the home of Focus on the Family. Would effectively outlaw abortions and most stem cell research in Colorado, as a start.

Level of Controversy: High, for obvious reasons.

Amendment: 49  “Allowable Government Paycheck Deductions”

Description: Amendment 49 would bar automatic union dues deductions from public employee payrolls, tentatively labelled as “ask first”. Amendment 49 is part of the attack on labor that was launched at the beginning of the year. Business leaders now opposed 49 as part of the deal with labor struck earlier this month.

Level of Controversy: Medium, not as visible at Amendment 47, but works with it to dismantle unions.

Amendment: 50  “Limited Gaming in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek”

Description: Fairly straightforward, would allow gaming (read: gambling) in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. Raising the maximum bet from 5 dollars to 100 dollars. Opponents are generally of the anti-gambling variety.

Level of Controversy: Low, with the economic state of the state and country, any extra revenue without a direct tax is welcome.

Amendment: 51  “State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities”

Description: Would raise sales taxes in 2009 and 2010 to fund services for the developmentally disabled. With a massive base of support and little to no opposition, it will almost certainly pass.

Level of Controversy: Low, no real campaign against it. Die-hard fiscal conservatives may oppose it at the ballot box.

Amendment: 52  “Use of Severance Tax Revenue for Highways”

Description: Amendment 52 would allow the use of severance tax revenues to fund highway construction an maintenance, apparently not allowed currently.

Level of Controversy: Low, as I have no idea why this would provoke controversy anywhere outside of a highway enthusiast club.

Amendment: 54  “Campaign Contributions from Certain Government Contractors”

Description: Amendment 54 would prohibit those who have contracts with the government worth over 100,000 dollars from making political campaign contributions for two years after that contract has expired. Business leaders now oppose Amendment 54, as part of the deal with the unions.

Level of Controversy: Medium-high, as it is part of the 2008 attack on labor that provokes so much controversy and the aforementioned war between business and labor.

Amendment: 58  “Severance Taxes on the Oil and Natural Gas Industry”

Description: Amendment 58 would increase a severance tax, and eliminate a property tax deduction that allows the oil and gas industry to write off 87.5% of their taxes. Proceeds from the elimination of the tax deduction would be funneled into scholarships, wildlife habitats, and clean energy projects.  Opponents charge that it is a tax increase, a charge led by the oil and gas industry and anti-tax advocates. Governor Ritter supports the Amendment and has taken fire for his support.

Level of Controversy: Medium-high, Ad wars have exploded around this issue.

 

 

Amendment: 59  “Education Funding and TABOR Rebates”

Description: Amendment 58 would deal a heavy blow to TABOR, which has had public opinion as well as legislative opinion growing against it as the economy worsens. Bypasses TABOR’s restrictions on spending by creating a new State Education Fund. Has heavy support from democrats and moderate Republicans.

Level of Controversy: Medium, Douglas Bruce and the Club for Growth types that originally pushed for TABOR obviously oppose it.

I was originally going to delve into the referendums, but now that this post is past the 1000 word mark (sorry), I think i’ll save that for the next one or something.

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It’s the economy, stupid (or the lipstick, or the sex education, or the flag pins, or….)

By: Brian Bohnert

As Democratic strategist James Carville took the reigns of the Clinton campaign in 1992, he coaxed his team to stay on message with three themes he thought could beat George H.W. Bush – the economy, change and health care. The first theme became a rallying cry for the Democrats as they tried to take down a popular war time president and inadvertently gave rise to an American colloquialism. “Its the economy, stupid” seems as applicable today as ever with the news of two more mortgage giants folding and sending the market into the worst free fall since September 11, 2001 (see depressing chart here). Unemployment numbers are up, the strength of the dollar is down, and the American people seem to be on a hair trigger concerning the economy if the immediate response to John Mccain’s gaffe Monday about the “fundamentals” of the American economy is any indication. This response should not come as a huge surprise as currently, 56% of likely voters

Vote with your wallet

Vote with your wallet

indicatate that the economy is the number one issue facing America – a huge shift from 23% one year ago. Furthermore, most political observers agree that when the economy is good the party in power tends to stay there and if not, the challenger typically wins (google: Herbert Hoover+1932+great depression+worst response ever). While the bad economic numbers seem to work in Obama’s favor, the other key economic component to winning in November is taxes, (google: read my lips+taxes+Bush+actually, I hope you can’t read my lips, because I am going to raises taxes+1992 election) something the Democrats have not been able to overcome during the last two presidential elections. A quick study of the tax plans put forth by the Obama and McCain camps reveals a fairly typical liberal (demand side) and conservative (supply side) approach to economic policy, but a closer look is necessary as both Mccain and Obama have inched towards the center when you compare their plans to their respective historical counterparts – Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt. First, it is helpful to cut through some of the political and media spin which this article does quite nicely. The McCain folks would have you believe that Obama is scheming to tax anything that moves (or doesn’t in the case of your dead uncle Jerry who just left you his 3 million dollar estate) and claim that the Democrats would implement the largest tax increase since WWII. This simply is not true, nor is the false Republican claim that Obama will raise taxes on the middle class – something that Fox News (believe it or not) was sure to point out yesterday. A further analysis of the the plans reveals that in fact, Obama’s plan would tax individuals making over $250K/year with the highest tax burden shouldered by Bill Gates (not him personally, but his type). While Obama would extend Bush’s tax cuts for the middle class, he would expand the tax cuts for the lowest income earners. Predictably, McCain wants to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and reduce the capital gains tax. If you don’t know what capital gains are, it probably means this won’t affect you since normally this only hits the investments of wealthy Americans (probably not most students at The University of Colorado At Denver). Moreover, Corporations will see a reduction in taxation under the McCain plan which according to classic conservative fiscal thinking will increase competition within the free market, allow access to more capital to create jobs and eventually everyone benefits. Regardless of the plan you prefer, you will most likely see a reduction in your overall tax bill which come April 15, might leave a few extra dollars in your pocket for malted hops and barley. While this will be great for a one time celebration of your good fortune, what the American voter needs to consider is some of the hidden costs of living in a faltering economy and the plain humanity of our society. As gas prices continue to soar, the costs of health care increase and tax payer money continues to bail out wall street mistakes, a supply side philosophy seems woefully out of touch with the majority of Americans. If you think that government can be a force for good and help those that might need an extra boost into the next income bracket (as economist Paul Krugman does) then it might be time to consider a change in our economic plan. If, on the other hand, you view those people who struggle to make ends meet as “whiners” (as McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm does) more of the same might be your style. Moving forward, as wall street tries to deal with the implications of the most recent collapse, look for the economy to take center stage and the talk of lipstick and sex for kindergarteners to fade away. This rough and tumble game of politics has real world economic consequences – it is just unfortunate that it takes an economic collapse on wall street and a hit in our wallets to remind us of that.

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