Bush: Not wild about a crafty tax increase
The only thing wild about “Keep America Wild” is more wild government taxes for the everyday Coloradan and an opportunity for our non-elected officials in the state to spend wildly with abandon.
While I like to visit the great outdoors as much as the next guy, I want to pay for the privilege when I choose and resent this new program involving more government intervention in our lives under the misconception of giving us something for nothing.
Most people probably visit our state parks once or twice a year, which would cost you under $20. If you buy an annual pass, it’s $80 a year. This new bill is designed to have the annual pass cost “no more than half the current annual fee” per vehicle you own.
Since nothing is for free, the big question is how will this be financed? Through an increased cost to your vehicle registration, that’s how. While the pass fee is not actually set in the bill, it assumes it will be around $40 a year. So that means the increase in your annual vehicle registration is scheduled to be $40. Yes that is $40 more than you currently pay for every vehicle you own. Every vehicle — let that sink in for a minute.
Now this fee can be opted out of on your renewal, and that option is supposed to be conspicuous, which means obvious or you can’t miss it. How easy do you think it will be if it’s the government? Good luck. Once you opt out on one of your vehicles, it is supposed to be permanent. I’d suggest you closely watch out for those “accidental” database resets.
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And make sure you don’t drive that vehicle (the opted-out one) to the park the day you decide to stop by for a hike in the woods. The CPW (Colorado Parks and Wildlife) will be tasked with some strategy to assess whether a vehicle has paid their fees and if that vehicle has not, it will pay an undetermined fee at the gate. And how about people that never use the parks? Should they pay for those that do?
Now we have another fee (tax) thanks to our loving governing bodies. Extra personnel will be employed by CPW to enforce this program. And it’s likely additional workers will be needed at every County Clerk’s office to collect the fees and additional workers at the Colorado Revenue offices to manage the windfall. All in all, another onerous fee is added to a government already tangled with rules, regulations and penalties. As Ronald Reagan said, beware of a government that’s here to help.
I know I’ve rambled a bit, but what really irritates me is this new legislation was sold as simply reducing park fees for locals. What is really happening is the charge is being hidden in new vehicle registration fees. Of course, there’s an opt out. My opinion is that you shouldn’t have to opt out of some hidden tax you don’t want. Rather, you should opt in for an extra fee that you’re willing to pay.
My guess is a lot of people will be snagged in this obvious attempt to make us think we’re getting something for nothing when we are not. I think it’s more commonly called a shell game.
Thank you, Sen. Kerry Donovan and venerable Gov. Jared Polis for your cunning tax increase.
Greg Bush is a small business owner and a vice chair of the Eagle County Republicans.