DALLAS -- Backers of an amendment to limit the spending and taxing powers of Colorado governments expect to file a petition today seeking a vote on the issue in 1992.
At the same time, Colorado lawmakers and a leading business lobby say they will also seek a vote next November on a more moderate constitutional amendment to limit future spending by state and local government.
"Voters could have two alternatives to choose from," said state Rep. steve Arveschoug, R-Pueblo, who is pushing for a less restrictive limitation on government spending. "The likelihood of a limitation measure of some kind passing is greater all the time."
Voting on tax and spending limits has become a ritual every two years for Colorado taxpayers, who have rejected eight proposals since 1962.
Proposals could range from a rigid measure that would mandate statewide spedning limits for every layer of government to one that would allow local voters to decide just how much flexibility they wanted their officials to have in running government.
Backers of both say they would not affect outstanding debt but could limit the ability of government to sell bonds in the future.
"If you really support local control, does it make sense to come up with these arbitrary measures?" asks Sam Mamet, associate director of the Colorado Municipal League.
The proposal expected to be filed by 5:00 p.m. today would impose one standard for every layer of government in Colorado.
Douglas Bruce, a leading antitax proponent, said he hopes to file a petition today with as many as 80,000 signatures seeking a vote on his Taxpayers Bill of Rights, known as TABOR. To be certified for the 1992 ballot, the petition must have valid signatures of at least 49,279 registered voters.
Mr. Bruce said he was still short of his 80,000 goal but denied Coloradans were tired of his tax and spending limits. "It's just a sign that people are tired of butting there heads against the wall with government," he said.
His measure would limit future government spending to the rate of inflation, except when voters approve of greater increases.
The statewide proposal is modeled after city charter amendments that Mr. Bruce successfully campaigned for last April in Colorado Springs, where he lives.
Mr. Mamet notes that unlike two previous ballot measures, the latest proposal from Mr. Bruce would restrict both the spending and the revenue-raising abilities of governments. Previously, only taxing powers were at issue.
"From a local government standpoint, this is a major difference from the past," he said. "It will cause quite a bit of heartburn if it makes the ballot."
Still, some in the state capital believe the General Assembly should put forward its own plan for voters next year or risk the backlash of taxpayers angry enough to support any measure they believe will cut their tax bill.
Mr. Arveschoug and other lawmakers support a more moderate approching to curbing state government. By yearend, he expects to begin a campaign for a constitutional amendment that would -- if approved next November -- only limit state and local spending to the level of growth in personal income.
It would limit government spending, while allowing voters to tailor such curbs to local factors such as population growth.
"My goal is to have government spending be in line with people's ability to pay," he said. "The growth of income is an indicator of their ability to pay."
The measure was drafted by the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, a leading business group.
Pat Boyle, director of government affairs for the group, said the proposal was drafted after Mr. Bruce's proposal was narrowly defeated last November.
"Mr. Bruce is the avator of a movement that has been growing over the past two election cycles. We sense a trend," he said. "Once you get 49% of the public to support a proposal -- no matter how radical -- the idea has become mainstream."