A tax hike free of voters’ OK
Vail CO, Colorado
Gov. Bill Ritter will soon sign a legislative dodge to raise school district property tax bills without asking the voters.
The Democratic Party-dominated state Legisl-ature approved the scheme this week. And now the Democratic governor is expected to put his proposal into law.
We agree that education can use more funding. But this is not the way to do it.
More precisely, finding legal loopholes around the state Constitution to avoid the voters is not the way to do this.
The clear intent of the state Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, is for voters to approve any tax increases beyond the strictures of the amendment to the state Constitution. Arguing with a big wink that freezing the tax rate is OK neglects a basic component in how the actual property tax bill increases as property values increase. And in Eagle County, those values can soar. Fundamentally, the governor and Legislature are running a con here, and it’s not right.
If the Democrats believe the state needs the tax increase, they should follow the spirit of the law and make their case with the voters. That would be fair.
Instead they are narrowly parsing the language of the law, looking for escape from the vagaries of an election possibly upsetting the plan.
There’s another potential consequence if the Democrats succeed in making the scheme stick. What about the precedence for every other government body that relies on property tax? What if they all decide this is a great way to get more money without bothering to ask the folks who must pay these bills?
The only part of this plan that’s been fully thought through was concocting a legal means of avoiding a proper election.
” Don Rogers for the Editorial Board