Statehouse Dems Want MORE Tax Dollars

Reading this story in today’s Rocky Mountain News, I’m reminded that I wasn’t the only one who sat and suffered all day through yesterday’s School Finance Interim Committee meeting at the State Capitol.

Weeks before, the Interim Committee (under the direction of State Senator Sue Windels, D – Arvada) charged a task force of school officials, school finance experts, and a variety of interest group representatives to come up with a report making recommendations for a new way to fund K-12 public education in Colorado. The Task Force has sat through the series of meetings, as have I, listening to a variety of presentations, the details of which I will not bore you with.

But today’s story in the Rocky reflects the problem with the one-sided view of most of the Committee, Task Force, and even the audience. (I am one of a few exceptions.) Look in the story for an alternative point of view on the Task Force’s proposals for a massive tax-and-spend increase. Any alternatives out there?

More interestingly, and slightly touched on in the article, is the morning’s presentation on Referenda C and D by official legislative staff members who analyze budgets, statutory requirements, and the like. And this noteworthy quote [emphasis added]:

New spending for schools is “not realistic at all,” even if Ref C passes, Windels said after the meeting.

But a future ballot measure to benefit schools is realistic and necessary to provide “a first-rate” education for all children, Windels said.

An acknowledgment from one of the leading proponents of the forever tax increase that it won’t give the Democratic legislators nearly enough money to spend on new educational programs. And to Senator Windels and her Task Force, Amendment 23 – which mandates annual growth in state K-12 education spending at the rate of inflation plus one percent through 2010-11 and at the rate of inflation thereafter – should be just the “floor” for state education spending, not a “ceiling.”

Did the voters really think they were getting a fiscally conservative majority when they put the Democrats in power in the Colorado statehouse? Instead of trying to fix any budget difficulties, they’ve thrown their weight behind a pair of measures that overtax Coloradans and do nothing to address the long-term structural issues. Then one of their leaders admits that even passing their measure won’t be enough money.

During the lunch break, I spoke with one of my fellow meeting observers who told me that she had been on the fence about Ref C & D, but the morning’s presentation of “just the facts” by legislative staffers convinced her to vote ‘No’ – and to tell several of her undecided friends to do the same. The presenters’ basic message was that the proposals would help a little in the short-term to allow more spending but would do nothing to solve the long-term budget issues.

The Democrat response? Vote for C & D, anyway, trust us to take care of it. And we’ll come back to you asking for more tax dollars soon. Terrific!

Reform education? Maybe promote some more efficiency? No, just pour money down the tube. At least not everyone in the committee room was on the same page.

Coming soon… Debunking the myths about K-12 education funding in Colorado…

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