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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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I heard this today on the radio while driving home and was going to bitch about it, but you beat me to it.

Good lord, I already pay $400 a year to register my car...and why is it based on assessed value anyway?  I can almost guarantee my car does less damage than a polluting, 2-ton car from the late 70s which costs all of $28 to register.

on Jan 31 2008 @ 10:15 PM

No joke--and the idea that these fees are going to increase that much will keep me driving my car longer than I otherwise would.

on Jan 31 2008 @ 10:22 PM

It’s based on assessed values because that gives them exact numbers to work with, and it’s easier for them. If it were based on pollution potential, there’d be all sorts of lawsuits alleging that the testing was done incorrectly, or the machines were improperly maintained, and so on. Not to mention the privacy issues and other complications if it had to be adjusted for exact mileage driven.

Personally, I was pissed when the “let us keep the money instead of refunding it as required by law” and the “increase school funding every year no matter what” referenda were approved. I don’t know if I can find it now, but a few years ago I found an economics report that compared Colorado’s economy with, I believe, Tennessee’s over a specific span of years. The gist of the report was that Colorado’s economy had outperformed the other one by a large amount due to TABOR, which went into effect at the beginning of the period.

on Feb 01 2008 @ 09:15 AM

Hawaii does it by vehicle weight, and I think that’s a pretty good way of getting a definitive measurement.  It rewards owners of light cars with smaller engines that get better mileage, wear down road surfaces less, and generally pollute less.

on Feb 01 2008 @ 09:42 AM

If only the Colorado GOP had not run the clownish Beauprez for Governor ...

on Feb 01 2008 @ 12:52 PM

No wonder my state is poor. We only pay $36.00.

on Feb 01 2008 @ 06:18 PM

I would be a bunch happier with that registration fee. Much happier.

on Feb 01 2008 @ 09:55 PM

Does he not GET how high registration already is in Colorado?  Seriously. It’s astronomical.  Fucking idiot.

on Feb 02 2008 @ 07:32 AM

I’m sure Ritter, like any Democrat (or John McCain), regards the taxpayers as livestock, to be milked for as much cash as he thinks he needs. If that means your already high registration fees get even higher, well…

Your complaints are just so much mooing in his ears.

on Feb 02 2008 @ 11:46 AM
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