RTD rail lines continue to flunk the cost-benefit test for metro Denver commuters and taxpayers, warns contributor Tom Graham
Rolling into 2018, US policymakers led by Trump and the GOP have dramatically raised the ante in the global poker game for competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth.
Referendum C set TABOR’s tax baseline at the highest amount collected between 2005 to 2010. Ref C’s big-spending advocates promised that its tax burden would last only five years. But Coloradans still pay $1 billion each year. Now our state wants Amendment 66, an additional $1 billion annually. Rather than its ever-expanding bloated budget, the state should eliminate inefficiencies and consolidate or privatize government functions.
Education consumes 37 percent of the budget, roughly $10,000 per pupil. Still, despite billions of tax dollars spent on education, pupil achievement remains essentially flat. Moreover, the state will impose more regulations, taking yet more control of their children’s schooling away from parents.
High taxes stifle the economy, reduce the amount individuals have to spend, and limit the ability of businesses to expand or to maintain employee benefits.
Amendment 66 carries a $1 billion price tag that will grow every year. Its goals cannot be measured. Colorado taxpayers deserve better.
Centennial's city council, at its 13 August meeting, authorized a November ballot proposal allowing the city to "retain and spend excess revenues." TABOR, our Taxpayer's Bill of Rights in the Colorado constitution, permits a government to retain a limited amount the prior year's revenue increased by the inflation rate plus the percentage increase in real property valuation. Revenue collected above that threshold must be returned to the taxpayers. About 65% of Centennial's revenue is already exempt from that revenue cap. The remaining 35% is temporarily exempt as well. The exemption expires on 31 December 2013. The city's ballot measure would seek to make that expiring exemption permanent.
Several obvious paths should be considered before voters approve granting the city permanent exemption on all of its revenue.
* While continued economic recession still depresses the city's revenue, voters could approve another temporary waiver. Granted that elections are costly, but the city holds elections every other year anyway for city council members and every fourth year for mayor.
* If the amount to be returned is unreasonably small for the cost and effort needed, voters could allow the city to retain excess revenue until the return amount reached some practical, cost-effective figure.
* Rather than asking permission to retain excess, Centennial could lower its taxes and fees. Thus the city would not have the problem of excess revenue.
Lower taxes and fees would promote economic growth and jobs, thus increasing both the city's revenue and the people's well-being. Even the IRS refunds over-payments.
I'm a no-vote on Prop 103, and so should you be. The ballot issue raising Colorado's income tax rate and sales tax rate for the next five years (ostensibly to fund education, but with no guarantee of doing so), is but the latest effort by the spending lobby to avoid hard choices about reining in the growth of government and disciplining the education "blob" toward greater productivity from its already-lavish resources. Barry Poulson and Penn Pfiffner lay out the economic and fiscal case against Prop 103 very ably at the Independence Institute website, www.i2i.org.
The Too Taxing for Colorado folks and former state Rep. Victor Mitchell add their facts and logic at these sites.
To see what the other side is saying, look here http://voteyeson103.com/
Finally, painting with a very broad brush and not looking at the specific alleged case for 103 as a school-supporting measure, I had this exchange with the ever-liberal Susan Barnes-Gelt on Colorado Public Televsion last month, part of our regular "Head On" debate feature.
Susan: DU’s Center for Colorado’s Economic Future predicts that structural flaws in the state government combined with two recessions, mean the long-term fiscal stability of state government’s at stake. I know you think government ought to drown in a bathtub – but a bi-partisan group of leaders disagree.
John: Governments at every level are in danger of drowning themselves in debt. Colorado is no exception, and just like the federal government in Washington, our state has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Raising taxes right now would hurt job creation and postpone needed reforms. Vote no on Proposition 103!
Susan: We’re drowning alright – in our own excesses – waging two wars while we cut taxes, failing to keep up with China in infrastructure and educational investments, coddling Wall Street while we ignore Main Street. The deficit is mounting – leadership, vision, courage and vision.
John: As a free and open society with Judeo-Christian roots, I like our chances against communistic China, decadent Europe, or barbaric Islam. But we do have a responsibility deficit, and the result could be fiscal collapse. Feeding the beast with more taxes is not the answer. Vote no on 103!