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A new tax without voters’ say

Vail Daily Editorial
Vail CO, Colorado

Give Gov. Bill Ritter an A for creativity and an F for not recoginizing that the true judgment of a tax increase is how it hits the ol’ pocketbook.

The quiz in this case concerns a laudable goal to head off a shortfall in funding for education. The governor proposed allowing school districts to maintain property tax rates rather than lowering them to keep tax increases within state spending limits.

The infamous Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment to the state Constitution insists that voters approve new taxes, higher tax rates or tax policies that result in extra tax revenue. TABOR is a flawed amendment that has created many problems for Colorado, but this part is not among them.

The governor, otherwise a very bright guy, seemed to have forgotten a key part of the property tax puzzle for those of us privileged to pay them. That is that the value of our property tends to rise ” up here in the mountains, they can soar.

The appreciation alone raises the tax bill even as the tax rate lowers. Maintaining the same rate, then, can lead to pretty daunting tax hikes in reality, if not name.

The governor means well, but this scheme would amount to a substantial tax increase without the voters’ approval. And it sure looks like a violation of the law even with the lawyerly circumbulations about “intent” of voters lifting TABOR spending caps for their local school districts.

As the Rocky Mountain News put it, this “has the appearance of a too-clever technical trick.” Amen.

The governor needs to back off this one and make sure it stays out of current school finance legislation in the state Senate.

A fellow as clever as he should be able to come up with a fairer, and frankly more honest, approach than this.

” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board


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