Ritter’s Tax-Hike Supporters Standing on Weak Arguments

Mike Littwin's Saturday column for the Rocky Mountain News highlights the tenuous ground occupied by supporters of the governor's official endorsement of the $1.7 billion+ property tax increase. Their best argument apparently is that some opponents mistakenly voted for a similar proposal three years earlier. Meanwhile, Littwin typifies the rhetorical distortions made by the tax-and-spend crowd. (I omitted the partisan cheapshots that are standard fare for Littwin columns and not to be taken seriously, anyway. Instead, I wish to tackle some of the subtle and salient points about the issue itself that readers are supposed to accept at face value.) 1. The use of the term "property-tax freeze," as though the change in law were going to … [Read more...]

Denver Union Leaders Should Tout Past Successes

Is the Denver Classroom Teachers Association (DCTA) a victim of its own salary-negotiating success? Why does the union that represents teachers in Denver Public Schools (DPS) not want to embrace how well it has done to increase compensation for its rank-and-file? Because it's time for DCTA to negotiate for even more money. As the Rocky Mountain News editors highlight today, the district's teachers have not been shortchanged nearly as much as some have touted: The district's figures show a cumulative salary increase of more than 21 percent for teachers who will have worked for DPS for four years, from 2004-05 to 2007-08. To be blunt, that has come in part at the expense of other DPS unions (who have received 11.5 percent) and school … [Read more...]

Schaffer’s In … No, Really, This Time (I Think) … Check Back Later

Update: Yes, he's in.  Key graf: "Republicans have lost elections because our leaders have not been bold enough in proposing innovative solutions in Washington and have drifted from our long-held claim to the mantle of fiscal responsibility," Schaffer said. "Republicans have not fought hard enough for children and public education reform, especially in the inner city where the need has reached crisis status." The race is on. It looks like some of us - me included - jumped the gun on the Bob Schaffer announcement that he would be joining the U.S. Senate race for Colorado's open seat in 2008. For reasons I explained in my previous post (as well as others), I've had a good sense that this announcement was inevitable. It's just … [Read more...]

Great Reminders about Education

As usual, one of my favorite teacher friends - Michael at Best Destiny - makes some excellent big picture points about the state of public education, teachers unions, and the hard-working people in the classrooms. His post is a thoughtful follow-up to the story of the unsurprisingly biased Rocky Mountain High School (Fort Collins) math test reported at Face the State and covered here. One point Michael makes is one I don't make enough but needs to sink home with some: The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, that, contrary to popular belief, teachers are not all Democrats. It has been my experience, having worked in 23 schools in my career (yes, I have an odd job description), that there are vastly more Republicans in the education profession … [Read more...]

Fairness and Integrity: Flunking the Test in Fort Collins

According to one Fort Collins high school math teacher, you can't believe anything I say. If his opinion doesn't bother you, then go ahead and read. My Independence Institute colleague Amy Oliver helped to uncover the story of the slanted Rocky Mountain High School math exam, which is covered this morning at Face the State: RMHS is part of the Poudre School District; its teachers are members of the Poudre Education Association (PEA). The Colorado Supreme Court recently announced that it will hear arguments alleging that the PEA illegally campaigned for democrat candidate for state senate, Bob Bacon. Faithful readers of this site may know something about that issue. For a refresher, here's an op-ed I wrote last July after the state court … [Read more...]

Ritter Signs Property Tax Hike, Sticks Finger in Taxpayer Eyes

Colorado taxpayers should remember yesterday - May 9. Governor Bill Ritter signed S.B. 199, which includes a huge property tax increase. He refused to ask for a vote of the people. He stuck a finger in your eye. Have we so soon forgotten Referendum C? It's little more than arrogance, sheer arrogance, my friends. More: - Rocky Mountain News: "Plain and simple, TABOR says all tax increases have to go before a vote of the people," Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, said in a release Wednesday. "Those in charge at the Capitol very easily could have asked first before hiking property taxes," said Caldara. "Instead, they've thumbed their noses at the voters and the constitution." - Colorado Senate News: "It's … [Read more...]

Yes, It’s Time to Sue: Arrogant Tax Hike Leaves Little Choice

This development, reported today in the Rocky Mountain News, was a matter of inevitability. (Disclosure: As an Independence Institute employee, I knew the story was coming. Even if I weren't, I would be convinced the course of action was necessary, but a result of regrettable circumstances.) Yes, the time has come to sue. Even Governor Bill Ritter and the Democrats who arrogantly violated the state constitution and foisted the property tax increase on the people of Colorado had to know they'd be facing legal action. Of course, when liberal officials want to enact liberal policies in Colorado, they gladly prefer to face the courts rather than the people. As The Colorado Index frequently reminds us, the legal system works for Democratic … [Read more...]

The Case of CU’s Phil Mitchell: He Deserves an Investigation

Once again, the Post's David Harsanyi brings an important case to light. In today's column, he highlights the case of Phil Mitchell, a veteran instructor at the University of Colorado who was recently fired. For having views or professional practices like Ward Churchill? Hardly. Mitchell is a conservative Christian who claims he was set up. (Disclosure: Though I've never met Mitchell, we have mutual friends.) To his credit, Harsanyi presents the case in a fair and balanced manner: Mitchell can relay stories of the nasty anti-Christian bigotry he's experienced on campus. I suspect that bias is very real. But those are the hard knocks of free speech. The question is: Do those incidents mean there is a conspiracy to remove him from CU? It … [Read more...]

Fresh Air: Legislative Respite

Ahh... what a breath of Colorado fresh air! The state legislature is out of session for the time being, which means taxpayers will be spared further damage for awhile. There's not much to congratulate the majority Democrats for this time, except two things: 1. The legislature dismissed early, saving thousands of taxpayer dollars. 2. The overall hit taxpayers and businesses will take from the session's legislation will be bad, but it could have been worse. I'm enjoying it while it lasts, but with rumors swirling that Governor Ritter will call a special session in which a bill mandating collective bargaining for public employees will be introduced, the extra dose of freedom may be short-lived. … [Read more...]