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Hickenlooper Asks Judge To Toss Colorado Tax Suit

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Gov. John Hickenlooper at the 2011 Governors Summit of U.S. Chamber of Commerce June 20, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Gov. John Hickenlooper at the 2011 Governors Summit of U.S. Chamber of Commerce June 20, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

DENVER (AP) – Lawyers for Gov. John Hickenlooper have asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s tax and spending limits.

State lawyers filed a petition Monday characterizing the suit that aims to undo Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as an attack on citizen initiatives.

A group of Democratic and Republican officials in May filed the legal challenge against the 1992 initiative, commonly known in Colorado as TABOR, that imposed strict rules on how tax money is raised and spent. The bipartisan group called the measure an unconstitutional law that renders the legislative branch ineffective, depriving the state and its citizens of effective representative democracy.

The suit claims TABOR has brought “a slow, inexorable slide into fiscal dysfunction” to Colorado since voters approved the constitutional amendment in 1992.

According to the Denver Post, anti-tax activist Douglas Bruce of Colorado Springs, who wrote TABOR, supports the Democratic governor’s position.

“Not only would their lawsuit invalidate TABOR, but it would invalidate term limits and many other initiatives the people have wanted and voters have approved,” he said.

State Rep. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, said Bruce is trying to go against more than 200 years of constitutional law.

More than 30 current and former public officials joined the lawsuit.

Colorado lawmakers have been divided on the merits of the initiative since voters approved it as a state constitutional amendment in 1992. It requires lawmakers to ask voters to raise taxes and limits the amount of tax revenue the state can keep and spend because government can’t grow faster than the combined rate of inflation and population growth.

As of last year, 30 states had some type of tax or spending limitations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but analysts say Colorado has the most stringent tax-and-spend requirements.

Hickenlooper is named as a defendant in the suit. Attorney General John Suthers’ office is defending him and the state law.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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