Colorado Supreme Court upholds $1.7B school tax
Associated Press Writer
DENVER ” The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld a property tax measure expected raise $1.7 billion for schools over 11 years.
The court ruled 6-1 Monday the law does not violate the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, an amendment to Colorado’s constitution that limits taxes and spending.
The 2007 property tax law freezes tax rates in some school districts where they had been expected to decline. It funnels the extra money to education, including $117 million in the first year.
Opponents argued the law was unconstitutional because it gave the state more tax revenue without approval from voters, as required by TABOR.
They filed suit, and in May 2008 a Denver District Court judge ruled the law was unconstitutional. Monday’s Supreme Court opinion overturns the district court.
Attorney General John Suthers said the district court had it right.
“Given the (Supreme) Court’s history with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, I am not surprised by the decision, but I am nonetheless disappointed. I remain convinced that the Colorado Constitution dictates that the voters decide when their taxes should be increased,” Suthers said in a statement.
The court ruled that because state revenue technically didn’t increase, no statewide election was required, the justices said.
House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, said the Supreme Court’s ruling is a stretch.
“Just because a court can do something doesn’t mean they should,” May said.
The only dissenting vote on the court was from Justice Allison Eid, who said the court sidestepped the question of whether the bill increased taxes.
“In my view, it is wrong for the majority the deprive the voters of their right to vote on a decidedly (non-minimal) tax increase simply because it can imagine an absurd application of the voter approval requirement. The amount of tax revenue involved in this case ” $117 million ” is hardly (minimal),” Eid noted.