Non-profit

Colorado Fiscal Institute

Website:

www.coloradofiscal.org/

Location:

DENVER, CO

Tax ID:

46-1281109

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $1,053,583
Expenses: $1,124,678
Assets: $813,487

Formation:

2013

Executive Director:

Carol Hedges

The Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI) is a left-of-center nonprofit organization which supports the implementation of left-of-center fiscal policy in Colorado. Most of CFI’s advocacy has supported the repeal of the taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR), a provision of the Colorado constitution that requires that legislators get voter approval before implementing new taxes in most cases. [1] CFI has been active in supporting ballot initiatives to repeal TABOR, keeping voters from considering tax policy in ballot questions, and arguing in support of Democratic efforts to raise revenue while circumventing the law. [2]

Aside from advocating for TABOR repeal, CFI has supported proposals to implement a government-funded mandatory paid and family leave program in Colorado, raise the state minimum wage, and implement increased tax credits for low-income Coloradans. [3] [4]

CFI has received funding from prominent left-of-center organizations including the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Voqal Fund,[5] and the Energy Foundation. [6] Carol Hedges, a left-of-center activist and founder of CFI, was previously associated with the State Priorities Partnership (SPP), a project of the left-of-center Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). [7] [8]

Activity

Founded by left-of-center activist Carol Hedges in 2013, CFI works to implement left-of-center fiscal policy in Colorado. [9] The organization has become well-known for its efforts to repeal the taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR), which requires that Colorado voters approve any new taxes before they are implemented in most cases. [10]

TABOR Repeal Initiatives

Most of CFI’s advocacy work has been focused on repealing the taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR), an amendment to the Colorado state constitution passed in 1992 which requires that Colorado voters approve new taxes and spending on large projects in most cases. [11] The measure also restricts the amount of new revenue the state of Colorado can collect based on the Consumer Price Index. Any amount beyond the initial estimate must be rebated back to the taxpayers of Colorado under TABOR. [12]

CFI has criticized TABOR for placing tax policy under the authority of voters, with former CFI executive director Carol Hedges claiming that issues of taxation should never be placed on the ballot due to their complexity. [13] [14]  CFI has advocated for greater government control of taxation and less oversight by the public, with CFI communications director Tim Hoover claiming that the Colorado government’s inability to raise revenue without taxpayer approval causes them to be unable to “repeal or modify outdated, inequitable and unproductive taxes.” [15]

Much of CFI’s opposition to TABOR has come out of its campaign to implement a left-progressive tax system in Colorado, moving away from the state’s existing income tax system which is nearly flat. While TABOR exists, legislators cannot impose a left-of-center tax code without voter approval. [16] Left-of-center leaders and organizations, including CFI, have sought to circumvent TABOR through the imposition of “fees,” but not taxes, by state legislators to raise revenue. [17]

In 2019, CFI supported a ballot measure which sought to repeal TABOR during the 2020 election cycle. CFI faced a court challenge in supporting the measure, with opponents arguing that the repeal of TABOR as a single initiative would violate the Colorado Single Subject Initiatives and Referenda measure, which requires that all ballot initiatives address only a single issue.  Though the Colorado Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of CFI, allowing TABOR repeal to be considered as a single ballot issue, dissenters on the court claimed that the majority opinion “profoundly weakens” the single subject requirement. [18]

Even once TABOR repeal was allowed onto the ballot, CFI engaged in attempts to block it from being transparently considered by voters. While supporting the measure, CFI argued that the term “taxpayer bill of rights” should not appear on any ballot initiative related to TABOR’s repeal, instead claiming that it should only appear to voters by its less commonly understood name: Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution. [19] The Colorado Title Board ultimately ruled partially against CFI, agreeing to label the ballot question as “concerning the repeal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado constitution.” [20]

In March 2020, CFI and its allies gave up on the inclusion of a 2020 ballot initiative to repeal TABOR, instead supporting an initiative to lower income taxes for households making less than $250,000 per year and nearly double the tax rate for those making over $1 million. [21]

Despite giving up on a 2020 ballot initiative, CFI has supported ongoing efforts to abolish TABOR, including a legal challenge set to be heard by 9 federal judges in summer 2021 which alleges that TABOR violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of a “Republican Form of Government.” [22] CFI has also supported efforts to circumvent TABOR through left-of-center ballot initiatives to implement new programs like universal paid family leave, increase business taxes, and create fees. [23]

In 2021, CFI supported a series of measures led by Democrats in Colorado to increase revenues by more than $20 billion by 2030, most of which came without the direct voter approval required by TABOR. [24] That same year, CFI endorsed a bill which sought to mandate that any ballot questions regarding issues of taxation list which programs would be impacted by tax policy change. [25]

Other Activities

Aside from routinely pushing for the repeal of TABOR, CFI has pushed left-of-center fiscal policy in the state since its inception. Also in 2020, CFI supported a ballot initiative to repeal the Gallagher Amendment, which placed limits on local jurisdictions’ ability to raise property taxes. The measure passed in 2020, though Colorado voters also supported lower income tax rates that year. [26]

That same year, CFI worked to pass a ballot initiative to create a mandatory paid family and medical leave program. CFI worked to push for an even more far-left program than those implemented in other states, granting low-income workers up to 90% of their paychecks while on leave, rather than the standard 60-70%. [27] The measure passed in 2020, costing the average taxpayer $234 annually. [28]

In April 2021, CFI again fought to keep issues of taxation from going to voters, arguing that three initiatives which sought to lower tax rates for property tax assessments should not be allowed on the ballot under the single-issue provision. Its complaints also alleged that the initiatives were misleading because they did not clearly state the programs that would lose funding. [29] The board ruled against CFI and the far-left Bell Policy Center, allowing the initiatives to proceed. [30]

In 2013, CFI supported Amendment 66, a measure which sought to repeal Colorado’s flat tax rate of 4.63% and implement a tiered system which sought to tax wealthier Coloradans at a much higher rate in order to provide increased funding for education. CFI decried the flat tax as having “depleted our capacity to fund schools and other important priorities,” and it was joined by other left-of-center organizations including the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Hospital Association, and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union in supporting the measure. [31] Amendment 66 failed by a large margin. [32]

CFI has long supported increased public funding for post-secondary education. In 2019, CFI supported a bill that sought to provide restrictions on student loan providers and support a full time “Student Loan Ombudsman” in the Colorado Attorney General office. [33]

Aside from post-secondary education, CFI has worked to implement a number of new left-of-center entitlement programs in the state of Colorado. In 2020, CFI joined with 173 other left-of-center figures and organizations in Colorado urging the federal government to expand food assistance programs beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. [34] That same year, CFI supported proposals to increase the Colorado minimum wage for all workers, including tipped workers. [35]

In 2021, CFI supported bills to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in Colorado, implement a child tax credit for parents of young children, and require all businesses to accept cash as a payment method. [36] [37] That year, CFI also signed onto a letter alongside the Colorado Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and Clean Energy Action claiming that so-called “environmental racism” was damaging communities of color. [38]

People and Funding

In 2019, CFI reported $1,053,583 in revenue, $1,124,678 in expenses, and $742,577 in net assets. CFI has received funding from a number of left-of-center and left-progressive organizations. [39] These include the Colorado Health Foundation,[40] the Gary Community Investments,[41] the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation,[42] the Colorado Trust,[43] the Voqal Fund,[44] the Merle Chambers Fund,[45] the Energy Foundation,[46] and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. [47]

Carol Hedges is the co-founder of CFI and has worked as its director since it was founded in 2013. Prior to joining CFI, Hedges spent four years working in the governor’s office in Kansas from 1982 until 1986 before she joined the National Governors Association. After moving to Colorado in 1996, Hedges worked for Colorado Governor Roy Romer (D) before joining the far-left Bell Policy Center as one of its initial staff members. Before founding CFI, Hedges worked for the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, a member of the left-of-center State Priorities Partnership (SPP) led by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). [48] [49]

Since 2016, Hedges has made 11 contributions totaling nearly $3,000 to campaigns and PACs affiliated with the Democratic Party. These include contributions to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and donations to ActBlue. [50]

In January 2021, Hedges announced that she was stepping down from CFI, effective December 2021. CFI has not named her successor as of July 2021. [51]

References

  1. Minor, Nathaniel, et al. “How Douglas Bruce And The Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights Conquered Colorado.” Colorado Public Radio, http://taxman.cpr.org/. ^
  2. Kenney, Andrew. “The Year That Democrats Left TABOR Behind: How Billions In New Spending Can Cut Through Colorado’s Conservative Firewall.” Colorado Public Radio. Colorado Public Radio, June 1, 2021. https://www.cpr.org/2021/05/31/tabor-taxes-fees-government-spending/. ^
  3. Goodland, Marianne. “Tax Bills Boosting Help for Low-Income Families and Small Business to Be Reviewed Friday in House Finance.” Colorado Politics, June 3, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/tax-bills-boosting-help-for-low-income-families-and-small-business-to-be-reviewed-friday/article_b33289f4-b43b-11eb-aab3-d3d9dbf4dc8c.html. ^
  4. Vo, Thy. “New Year, New Minimum Wage: Colorado’s Hourly Rate Jumps to $12.32 an Hour.” The Colorado Sun, January 4, 2021. https://coloradosun.com/2021/01/01/2021-min-wage-increase/. ^
  5. “Voqal Invests Over $118,000 to Advance Progressive Social Change in Colorado • Voqal.” Voqal, October 8, 2018. https://voqal.org/voqal-invests-over-118000-to-advance-progressive-social-change-in-colorado/. ^
  6. “Colorado Fiscal Institute.” Energy Foundation. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.ef.org/grant/colorado-fiscal-institute/. ^
  7. Karlik, Michael. “Hedges to Retire from Colorado Fiscal Institute.” Colorado Politics, January 19, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/hedges-to-retire-from-colorado-fiscal-institute/article_22dd9bc4-575b-11eb-9231-33c28e4d5694.html ^
  8. “Staff.” coloradofiscal.org. Colorado Fiscal Institute. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.coloradofiscal.org/who-we-are/staff/. ^
  9. Karlik, Michael. “Hedges to Retire from Colorado Fiscal Institute.” Colorado Politics, January 19, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/hedges-to-retire-from-colorado-fiscal-institute/article_22dd9bc4-575b-11eb-9231-33c28e4d5694.html. ^
  10. Minor, Nathaniel, et al. “How Douglas Bruce And The Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights Conquered Colorado.” Colorado Public Radio, http://taxman.cpr.org/. ^
  11. Minor, Nathaniel, et al. “How Douglas Bruce And The Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights Conquered Colorado.” Colorado Public Radio, http://taxman.cpr.org/. ^
  12. Hoover, Tim. “Break Antiquated Colorado Tax Policy Free of TABOR.” The Denver Post, The Denver Post, 25 Feb. 2017, https://www.denverpost.com/2017/02/24/break-antiquated-colorado-tax-policy-free-of-tabor/. ^
  13. Eason, Brian. “The TABOR Battle Is Reaching New Levels. Critics Are Testing 18 Ways to Rewrite Colorado Tax Policy.” The Colorado Sun, 5 June 2019, https://coloradosun.com/2019/06/05/colorado-tabor-repeal-2020-ballot/. ^
  14. TheAARPBulletin. “Weighing Impact of Strict Tax Limits.” Colorado, 1 Nov. 2018, https://states.aarp.org/colorado/weighing-impact-strict-tax-limits. ^
  15. Harden, Mark, and Joey Bunch. “Coloradans Favor Letting State Keep TABOR Surplus, Poll Says.” Colorado Springs Gazette, 9 Sept. 2019, https://gazette.com/news/coloradans-favor-letting-state-keep-tabor-surplus-poll-says/article_2071b8ba-92b5-54c0-985a-925208ec73b4.html. ^
  16. Associated Press. “Colorado among States Most Reliant on Income Tax.” Azcentral, 15 Sept. 2014, https://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/2014/09/15/colorados-reliance-on-income-tax/15654443/. ^
  17. “Democratic Lawmakers Want to Ask Voters in 2019 to End TABOR Cap, but Polis Is Not so Sure.” The Colorado Sun, March 7, 2019. https://coloradosun.com/2019/03/07/democratic-lawmakers-want-to-ask-voters-in-2019-to-end-tabor-cap-but-polis-is-not-so-sure/. ^
  18. Minor, Nathaniel. “Full TABOR Repeal Proposal Can Proceed, Colorado Supreme Court Rules.” Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio, 17 June 2019, https://www.cpr.org/2019/06/17/full-tabor-repeal-proposal-can-proceed-colorado-supreme-court-rules/. ^
  19. Minor, Nathaniel. “The Proposal To Repeal TABOR Could Go Back To The Supreme Court – Again.” Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio, 21 Aug. 2019, https://www.cpr.org/2019/08/21/the-proposal-to-repeal-tabor-could-go-back-to-the-supreme-court-again/. ^
  20. Minor, Nathaniel. “TABOR Repeal Supporters Don’t Want To Call It That.” Colorado Public Radio, Colorado Public Radio, 17 July 2019, https://www.cpr.org/2019/07/17/tabor-repeal-supporters-dont-want-to-call-it-that/. ^
  21. Frank, John. “TABOR Repeal Is off the Table for 2020. Now It’s Initiative 271, a $2 Billion Tax Hike Targeting the Wealthy.” The Colorado Sun, March 4, 2020. https://coloradosun.com/2020/03/04/tabor-repeal-graduated-income-tax-initiative-271/ ^
  22. Karlik, Michael. “9 Federal Judges Set to Decide Fate of TABOR Repeal Lawsuit.” Colorado Politics, May 20, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/courts/9-federal-judges-set-to-decide-fate-of-tabor-repeal-lawsuit/article_a269f698-ad0b-11eb-8fdd-fb521ad23882.html. ^
  23. Kenney, Andrew. “The Year That Democrats Left TABOR Behind: How Billions In New Spending Can Cut Through Colorado’s Conservative Firewall.” Colorado Public Radio. Colorado Public Radio, June 1, 2021. https://www.cpr.org/2021/05/31/tabor-taxes-fees-government-spending/. ^
  24. Kenney, Andrew. “The Year That Democrats Left TABOR Behind: How Billions In New Spending Can Cut Through Colorado’s Conservative Firewall.” Colorado Public Radio. Colorado Public Radio, June 1, 2021. https://www.cpr.org/2021/05/31/tabor-taxes-fees-government-spending/. ^
  25. Paul, Jesse. “Colorado Democrats Want to Use One of TABOR’s Most Effective Tax-Halting Mechanisms for Themselves.” The Colorado Sun, May 21, 2021. https://coloradosun.com/2021/05/21/tabor-pushback-colorado-house-bill-1321/ ^
  26. Eason, Brian. “The 2020 Election Untied and Retied the Fiscal Knot in Colorado with Decisions on Gallagher and Taxes.” The Colorado Sun, November 5, 2020. https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/05/gallagher-repeal-taxes-colorado-2020-election/. ^
  27. Brown, Jennifer. “Eight States Have Programs That Give Workers Paid Time off. Does That Help or Hurt Colorado’s Chances?” The Colorado Sun, September 9, 2020. https://coloradosun.com/2020/09/09/paid-family-leave-ballot-measure/. ^
  28. Eason, Brian. “The 2020 Election Untied and Retied the Fiscal Knot in Colorado with Decisions on Gallagher and Taxes.” The Colorado Sun, November 5, 2020. https://coloradosun.com/2020/11/05/gallagher-repeal-taxes-colorado-2020-election/ ^
  29. Karlik, Michael. “Objectors Ask Title Board to Rescind Approval of Property Tax Reduction Initiatives.” Colorado Politics, June 2, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/elections/objectors-ask-title-board-to-rescind-approval-of-property-tax-reduction-initiatives/article_dc7895c0-a8fa-11eb-bb0f-0b099de84044.html. ^
  30. Karlik, Michael. “Objectors Unsuccessful at Blocking Property Tax Cuts at Title Board.” Colorado Politics, June 2, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/elections/objectors-unsuccessful-at-blocking-property-tax-cuts-at-title-board/article_89591aca-aa0a-11eb-8a0a-9bca6f38b02b.html. ^
  31. Ball, Andrew. “Amendment 66 Will Improve Colorado’s Income Tax.” CCLP, Colorado Center on Law & Policy, 2 Oct. 2013, https://cclponline.org/pub_library/amendment-66-will-improve-colorados-income-tax/. ^
  32. Simpson, Kevin. “Voters Reject Big Tax Hike, School Finance Measure Amendment 66.” The Denver Post. The Denver Post, April 29, 2016. https://www.denverpost.com/2013/11/05/voters-reject-big-tax-hike-school-finance-measure-amendment-66/. ^
  33. Savic, Peter. “Bill Tightening Student Loan Regulations Awaits Polis’ Signature.” Colorado Times Recorder, May 7, 2019. https://coloradotimesrecorder.com/2019/05/bill-tightening-student-loan-regulations-awaits-polis-signature/15507/. ^
  34. Bunch, Joey. “Colorado Organizations and Leaders Ask for Permanent Food Security for the Poor.” Colorado Politics, July 21, 2020. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/coronavirus/colorado-organizations-and-leaders-ask-for-permanent-food-security-for-the-poor/article_338b0744-7aa8-11ea-be71-3f893a7dbf66.html. ^
  35. Vo, Thy. “New Year, New Minimum Wage: Colorado’s Hourly Rate Jumps to $12.32 an Hour.” The Colorado Sun, January 4, 2021. https://coloradosun.com/2021/01/01/2021-min-wage-increase/. ^
  36. Goodland, Marianne. “Tax Bills Boosting Help for Low-Income Families and Small Business to Be Reviewed Friday in House Finance.” Colorado Politics, June 3, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/tax-bills-boosting-help-for-low-income-families-and-small-business-to-be-reviewed-friday/article_b33289f4-b43b-11eb-aab3-d3d9dbf4dc8c.html. ^
  37. Quinton, Sophie. “Paying With Cash? Retailers Must Take Your Dollars in These States.” The Pew Charitable Trusts, May 11, 2021. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2021/05/11/paying-with-cash-retailers-must-take-your-dollars-in-these-states. ^
  38. Gonzalez, Ariana. “Colorado Must Center Equity in Climate Action.” NRDC, March 26, 2021. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/ariana-gonzalez/colorado-must-center-equity-climate-action. ^
  39. “Colorado Fiscal Institute.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990, 2019. Part I. ^
  40. “Colorado Fiscal Institute: Colorado Fiscal Education and Reform.” The Colorado Health Foundation. Accessed September 17, 2019. https://www.coloradohealth.org/grantmaking/colorado-fiscal-institute-colorado-fiscal-education-and-reform. ^
  41. “Colorado Fiscal Institute: Gary Community Investments.” Colorado Fiscal Institute | Gary Community Investments. Accessed September 17, 2019. https://www.garycommunity.org/investment/colorado-fiscal-institute. ^
  42. “Colorado Fiscal Institute, State Fiscal Analysis Initiative, 200000494.07.” Mott Foundation. Accessed September 17, 2019. https://www.mott.org/grants/colorado-fiscal-institute-state-fiscal-analysis-initiative-200000494-07/. ^
  43. “Grants.” Colorado Trust, February 22, 2018. https://www.coloradotrust.org/what-we-do/grants?sort_bef_combine=search_api_relevance ASC&page=14. ^
  44. “Voqal Invests Over $118,000 to Advance Progressive Social Change in Colorado • Voqal.” Voqal, October 8, 2018. https://voqal.org/voqal-invests-over-118000-to-advance-progressive-social-change-in-colorado/. ^
  45. “2018 ANNUAL REPORT GRANTEES.” Merle Chambers Fund. Accessed September 17, 2019. https://chambersfund.org/annual-reports/grantees/. ^
  46. “Colorado Fiscal Institute.” Energy Foundation. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.ef.org/grant/colorado-fiscal-institute/. ^
  47. “Women Thriving. Colorado Rising.” Grantee Cohort – The Women’s Foundation of Colorado. Accessed September 17, 2019. https://www.wfco.org/impact/grantee-cohort. ^
  48. Karlik, Michael. “Hedges to Retire from Colorado Fiscal Institute.” Colorado Politics, January 19, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/hedges-to-retire-from-colorado-fiscal-institute/article_22dd9bc4-575b-11eb-9231-33c28e4d5694.html. ^
  49. “Staff.” coloradofiscal.org. Colorado Fiscal Institute. Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.coloradofiscal.org/who-we-are/staff/. ^
  50. “Browse Individual Contributions: Carol Hedges.” FEC.gov. Federal Election Commission . Accessed July 20, 2021. https://www.fec.gov/data/receipts/individual-contributions/?contributor_name=Carol%2BHedges&contributor_employer=Colorado%2BFiscal%2BInstitute&two_year_transaction_period=2022&min_date=01%2F01%2F2000&max_date=12%2F31%2F2022. ^
  51. Karlik, Michael. “Hedges to Retire from Colorado Fiscal Institute.” Colorado Politics, January 19, 2021. https://www.coloradopolitics.com/news/hedges-to-retire-from-colorado-fiscal-institute/article_22dd9bc4-575b-11eb-9231-33c28e4d5694.html. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: February 1, 2013

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $1,053,583 $1,124,678 $813,487 $70,910 N $1,036,005 $13,530 $4,048 $107,688 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $1,215,820 $1,049,807 $876,360 $62,688 N $1,168,597 $46,995 $228 $106,786 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $917,207 $833,051 $677,659 $30,000 N $900,111 $16,930 $166 $102,900 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,037,989 $1,001,984 $596,472 $32,969 N $978,901 $58,720 $368 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990 $841,329 $774,458 $547,814 $20,316 N $781,509 $59,304 $516 $98,742 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $931,903 $651,368 $478,831 $18,204 N $908,878 $22,698 $327 $89,913 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $500,608 $475,104 $195,235 $15,143 N $500,072 $0 $536 $96,742 PDF

    Colorado Fiscal Institute

    1905 N SHERMAN ST STE 225
    DENVER, CO 80203-1141