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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Bill Ritter, You Ignorant Slut

Bill Ritter wants to raise taxes on the people of Colorado. He wants to raise taxes to the tune of an estimated $500 million a year.

Now, get this: he doesn’t want to let the people vote on it and he doesn’t want to call it a tax. How will he work his plan? By raising fees on the 5 million cars registered in Colorado by an “average of $100.” For reference, currently, according to the article, the average car registration in Colorado runs about $142--mine is a good chunk higher on a 2001 Mazda Millenia and I’m curious to see if I’d be right there in the “average” category. A $100 fee would tack about 50% onto my registration fee.

And I don’t have any say in the matter.

What is most frustrating is that since 1992, Colorado has had a “Tax Payers Bill of Rights” (TABOR) which is not only Douglas Bruce’s finest hour, but says that any tax that increases government revenue by more than the combined rate of population and inflation must be approved by a popular vote. There is a lot more to the TABOR Amendment, but this is the part that concerns us here. Ritter’s proposal--regardless of your opinion of the merit of his goal of rebuilding roads and bridges throughout the state--is designed to circumvent Colorado’s constitution and the TABOR Amendment by levying a monumental increase in fees in the state without allowing the voters any say in the matter.

While Democrats praised Ritter’s approach, Republicans said they were “flabbergasted” by his remarks, which followed eight months of study by his commission.

“The governor was unbelievable,” said Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany of Colorado Springs. “Instead of a practical solution, all he wants to do is talk some more. And all he wants to talk about is another de facto tax imposed on the people of this state.”

Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, also trashed the registration-fee increase.

“A car tax is a penalty on Colorado families, poor and small businesses,” he said.

Republicans accused Ritter of trying to circumvent voters with a $500 million fee increase and said any proposal to generate significant money for transportation should go to the ballot.

Colorado’s citizens approved the TABOR Amendment because they wanted a hand in the economic decisions of the state--and a half-billion dollar end run around the voting public isn’t just a bad idea, it’s an unethical violation of the spirit of TABOR.

Governor Ritter, who is facing tough funding choices right now (partially because of some of the other interesting features of TABOR--features that I like because in theory it forces our state government to think hard about its funding decisions), should go to the people and make his case. If the roads and bridges are in such bad shape, explain to us why current registration fees, gas taxes, and other state funds aren’t enough to cover maintenance and repairs. If it is so necessary to pile this new spending onto the budget, persuade me and my fellow citizens that a fee or tax increase is the right path to solving the problem.

We may agree and we may not agree, but, ultimately, it’s our money that these folks are playing with.

Governor Ritter, you have an opportunity to back away from your suggestion and do the right thing by letting the people of Colorado vote and choose. We are adults and it would be nice if you would treat us as such.

Read the rest.

Update: Kindly linked by our friend, Robert.

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