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Coalition begins campaign to pass ballot initiative giving Colorado voters a say on fee hikes

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Michael McGrady | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – A coalition of conservative and libertarian groups announced a joint petition drive for a ballot initiative to allow voters to approve state fee hikes.

The coalitions said it began collecting signatures on Monday for Initiative #295, also called the “Voter Approval of Fees” initiative.

"Coloradans are tired of state legislators evading TABOR and growing the budget through large fees and enterprises, and it’s time we bring this issue to the ballot box,” Colorado Rising State Action Executive Director Michael Fields said in a press release. Colorado Rising State Action is joined with the Denver-based Independence Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and Unite for Colorado.

Taxpayer watchdog groups have long warned that state fees have been used as a work-around for the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR), which mandates voter approval for all new taxes and tax hikes.

If the initiative makes it to the ballot, voters will be allowed to have a voice in deciding future increases to state fees.

"The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights is extremely popular in Colorado and is more important now than ever to help us make a strong economic comeback," said Jon Caldara, the president of the Independence Institute. "This long overdue initiative will force that conversation in the public and TABOR will come out stronger on the other side.”

If the measure passes it would apply to about $100 million in fees produced by state enterprises in the first five years, the coalition says.