Welcome to Taxorado...

... empty your pockets here. Last week it was Rep. Michael Garcia (D-Aurora) wanting to boost the sales tax a third of a billion dollars annually for the benefit of 8,000 developmentally disabled people. The week before, it was a tax and spend trifecta: tripping over each other in the Denver Post metro section on a single day were (1) half a billion in proposed higher RTD spending for one rail corridor alone...

then (2) a billion or more in new taxes for highways from one of Gov. Ritter's study groups (or if you prefer, and liberals probably do, another 1/3 billion in sneaky road "fees" not requiring voter approval)...

and then (3) up to $26 billion from another panel of Ritter dreamers for Canada-style socialized medicine, covering every resident at a cool 150% of the state's total current budget.

Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany (R-Colorado Springs), in a letter published Aug. 30, calls the latter "a fool's bargain" that would require a more-than-doubling of our income tax rate, from under 5% now to nearly 11% if the Dem dreamers get their way.

Also looming out there are the Ritter property tax increase for schools -- on the lawbooks but facing a TABOR suit -- and the Hank Brown plea for some kind of dedicated tax to support CU and other higher-ed institutions.

Mark Hillman, the former state senator and acting treasurer, offers context for all this revenue lust in his new study for the Independence Institute, documenting how K-12, higher ed, and health care missed out on much of the spending boost that voters were promised under Referendum C. The obvious lesson is that 2005's bait-and-switch could easily be the model for similar fiscal shuffles in the future. Caveat taxpayer.

You tend to think -- or at least I do, as a conservative Republican -- that the Taxorado frenzy can only be a liability to Dollar Bill Ritter and the Democrats. But then you remember Mayor John Hickenlooper and his 80-plus percent reelection this spring after a dozen tax increases in four years.

You remember former Gov. Bill Owens and his Dem-GOP coalition that passed Ref C, sending Owens off to private life last January with approval ratings above 60%. You think of a Republican legislator friend of mine who comments that in the Denver suburbs it's now "cool" among some Republicans and quite a few unaffiliated folks to vote for Democrats and higher taxes.

Maybe it's just another form of conspicuous consumption that makes affluent people feel good about themselves, not so different from the Volvo wagon, plasma TV and the daily latte. Not so different from buying carbon credits and paying more for green power.

I for one don't want to live in a State of Taxorado. Ever-larger government taking an ever-larger bite of what people earn is unhealthy for a free and virtuous people. It erodes liberty, responsibility, civic virtue, and the institutions of civil society. In a word, it's bad for backbone. But my preferences aren't everyone's. We'll see soon enough, from coming elections, what everyone's are.

[Cross-posted on PoliticsWest.com]