Non-profit

Common Sense Institute

Tax ID:

27-4253618

Budget (2018):

Revenue: $400,649
Expenses: $703,472
Assets: $151,344

Website:

commonsenseinstituteco.org

Location:

Greenwood Village, CO

Formation:

2011

Type:

Non-Profit

President and CEO:

Christopher Brown

President and CEO's Salary:

$0 [19]

Director of Policy and Research:

Christopher Brown

Director of Policy and Research's Salary:

$160,200 [20]

The Common Sense Institute (CSI) is a non-partisan, public-policy think tank that intends to protect and promote Colorado’s economy using principles that support free markets, individual freedom, and individual opportunity. [1]

CSI is an associate member of the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market, state-level policy organizations. [2] While CSI is non-partisan, members of its staff and board of directors have affiliations with the Republican Party. [3]

Activity

The Common Sense Institute was founded in 2010 as the Common Sense Policy Roundtable. CSI was established by a group of Colorado business leaders to influence public policy and use research and economic modeling to make economic analyses available to Colorado citizens. [4]  

CSI supports an increase in funding to K-12 education but opposed Colorado House Bill 21-1164, which was passed and signed by Governor Jared Polis (D) in July 2021. [5] CSI has argued that the bill, while increasing education funding, fails to address Colorado’s “outdated” education funding formula, which is based on district size and cost of living, as opposed to student needs. CSI has claimed that HB21-1164, which will increase local property taxes to provide $288 million in new education revenue when fully implemented, will still not meet the needs of individual students. CSI has further claimed that the bill will not reduce funding inequities across school districts or improve student outcomes because it does not address flaws in the current funding formula. CSI has also pointed out that the bill levies an increased tax without the approval of the people of Colorado, violating the state constitution, which requires that almost all new taxes be approved by Colorado voters. [6]

CSI began producing reports on Colorado’s proposed government-controlled health plan in 2019. The organization has produced additional reports for each new iteration of HB21-1232, the Colorado Option Health Benefit Plan, which aims to implement a partially government-controlled healthcare system in the state. In March 2021, CSI claimed that the proposed bill would have negative economic impacts and unintended consequences for Colorado’s health care sector, employer-sponsored health insurance plans, and the broader state economy. CSI has further alleged that the most recent iteration of HB21-1232 still has failed to address the issue of legislating lower healthcare prices without creating unpaid costs, which will result in higher prices, reduced access to health care, and reduced quality of care. [7]

More broadly, CSI published a report in July 2021 analyzing Colorado’s 2021 legislative session. CSI concluded that while Colorado’s general fund rose by more than $2 billion and federal funding provided the state with over $65 billion, the 2021 legislative session still resulted in an additional net tax burden of $302 million for fiscal year 2023. CSI reported that the 2021 legislative session resulted in an additional $699 million in new taxes and fees and concluded these new regulations could cost individuals and businesses more than the $2.1 billion in direct costs. In the same report, CSI alleged that some of the most impactful changes to regulations included a mandate to implement a new standardized health insurance plan at prices 15% below current rates, mandates for owners and operators of large commercial buildings to decrease energy use, and new regulations that will cost the oil and gas industry in Colorado over $200 million annually. [8]

Funding

The Common Sense Institute is funded by donations from individuals, foundations, and corporations. While CSI does not disclose its donors, tax filings show donations from the AMG Charitable Gift Foundation ($34,000 in 2014), [9] the Adolph Coors Foundation ($20,000 in 2019), [10] and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation ($5,000 in 2019). [11]

People

Staff

Kristin Strohm is the president and CEO of the Common Sense Institute. Strohm sits on the board of the left-of-center National Vote at Home Institute and is an alumna of the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute’s Leadership Network. [12]

Jake Zambrano is the director of legislative services at CSI. Zambrano formerly worked as the director of government affairs at the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the director of operations for former Colorado Governor Bill Owens (R). [13]

Board of Directors

Common Sense Institute board chair Earl Wright is CEO and chair of AMG National Trust Bank. Wright sits on the boards of the Alliance for Choice and Education (ACE) and the Institute for International Education. [14]

Buz Koelbel is the vice chair of the board of CSI, a trustee of the Urban Land Institute, and the chair of the Colorado Council on Economic Education. [15]

Don Childears sits on the board of Building a Better Colorado. [16]

Jack Graham is a former Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Colorado. [17]

Carrie Tynan is the executive director of the Adolph Coors Foundation.[18]

References

  1. “About Us.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/about/. ^
  2. “The Network: California.” State Policy Network, 2021. Accessed August 18, 2021. https://spn.org/directory/#CA. ^
  3. “Jake Zambrano.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/team/jake-zambrano/. ^
  4. “About Us.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/about/. ^
  5. “HB 21-1164.” Open States. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://openstates.org/co/bills/2021A/HB21-1164/. ^
  6. “Trying to Fix a Broken Education Finance System.” Common Sense Institute, March 31, 2021. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/trying-to-fix-a-broken-education-finance-system/. ^
  7. “Third Time Is No Charm.” Common Sense Institute, March 25, 2021. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/third-time-no-charm/. ^
  8. “The Steep Price Tag of the 2021 Legislative Session.” Common Sense Institute, July 13, 2021. Accessed August 30, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/the-steep-price-tag-of-the-2021-legislative-session/. ^
  9. [1] AMG Charitable Gift Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  10. Adolph Coors Foundation, Return of Private Foundation (Form 990-PF), 2019, Part XV, Line 3a. ^
  11. Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2019, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  12. “Kristin Strohm.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/team/kristin-strohm/. ^
  13. [1] “Jake Zambrano.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/team/jake-zambrano/. ^
  14. “Earl Wright.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/board-of-directors/earl-wright/. ^
  15. “Buz Koelbel.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/board-of-directors/buz-koelbel/. ^
  16. “Don Childears.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/board-of-directors/don-childears/. ^
  17. “Jack Graham.” Ballotpedia. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/Jack_Graham. ^
  18. “Carrie Tynan.” Common Sense Institute, 2021. Accessed August 26, 2021. https://commonsenseinstituteco.org/board-of-directors/carrie-tynan/. ^
  19. Common Sense Policy Roundtable Forum, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Part VII, Section A, Line 1a. ^
  20. Common Sense Policy Roundtable Forum, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Part VII, Section A, Line 1a. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 2011

  • 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
    2018 Dec Form 990 $400,649 $703,472 $151,344 $13,961 N $267,230 $133,000 $419 $0 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $649,336 $236,958 $448,488 $8,282 N $549,364 $99,749 $223 $0 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $206,422 $225,722 $33,531 $5,703 N $197,250 $9,167 $5 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990 $287,316 $306,485 $57,128 $10,000 N $202,720 $84,507 $89 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $290,586 $237,888 $81,297 $15,000 N $290,535 $0 $51 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $700,322 $735,647 $23,599 $10,000 N $700,228 $0 $94 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990EZ $158,604 $177,321 $58,924 $10,000 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $205,004 $137,363 $67,641 $0 N $205,000 $0 $4 $0 PDF