Time to Rein in Out of Control ‘Fees’

By Representative Matt Soper
fan of 100 U.S. dollar banknotes

Life can be frustrating when you don’t get what you want. Especially for Democrats who want to nickel and dime us. 

During my three-and-a-half years in the Colorado House of Representatives, I have vigorously fought against the Democrat’s $2.2 billion in new fees. Fees are like taxes, but they are used to circumvent the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which requires a vote of the people to create or increase taxes

In 1992, Colorado voters passed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, often referred to as TABOR. It is an amendment to the state constitution, which requires state and local government to seek voter approval in order to raise taxes and also limits growth in state spending to population growth plus inflation. If the state collects more revenues than it is allowed to spend, then it must return the surplus to the taxpayers.

Sadly, over time, the legislature has figured out ways to get around this law. Most notably, the use of “fees.” We have seen fees increased and enterprises established that raised the cost of government for all Coloradans. 

Whether you call it a tax or fee, it still costs our citizens money.

In 2019, Colorado voters said “no” to Proposition CC, telling the legislature to use their existing money to address any priorities and return excess funds to taxpayers. 

Then in 2020, Colorado voters told the legislature they wanted a seat at the table when new and excessive fees were being created by passing Proposition 117. All while passing an income tax reduction with Proposition 116. 

Yet, in the 2021 legislative session, the General Assembly ignored all of that and passed several fee increases on the people of Colorado using legislative and legal gymnastics to avoid the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and Proposition 117. Most notably, SB21-260 which increases the cost of gasoline, deliveries, ride shares and more. 

And here we are again in the middle of the 2022 Legislative session, and already members of the legislature are talking about ways to withhold TABOR tax refunds and using other legislative avenues to take more taxpayer money without a vote of the people using lessons learned from SB21-260.

It is time to once again to raise the threshold to increase fees on the people of Colorado. 

Watch for HB22-1059 this session, as it will put into law the requirement that any fee increase requires a super majority of the legislature to pass. Specifically, any fee increase must receive the support of two-thirds of the legislature to become law.

Under this proposal, no longer could a simple majority merely ignore the will of the voters and increase taxes or fees on the people. 

It’s time to end these fee abuses!

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About the Author:

Rep. Soper was born and raised in Delta, Colorado, where he and his wife currently reside. Soper has served in the legislature since 2019.