iVoices: Hear AG Suthers Explain Need for Vote on Tax Hike

Tune into the Independence Institute’s iVoices.org to hear my interview with Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, as he explains why his office filed a formal opinion this week that Governor Bill Ritter and the Democrat-led state legislature needed to submit their property tax increase proposal to a vote of the people.

As Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, stated to his Democratic colleagues supporting the tax increase: “The inconvenient truth is TABOR.” A narrow majority of the legislature ignored the inconvenient truth, arrogantly passing the tax hike. The governor is sure to sign it into law.

And because of TABOR, some kind of a taxpayer lawsuit against the abuse of legislative power seems almost inevitable. I think it’s most telling that the Democrats are more confident in finding support for their tax-and-spend policies from the courts than from the people.

Comments

  1. gary says

    Independent Thinking, Ch 12, was very informative. Several new bits of information came out.

    1. You noted that SB199 requires that none of the property tax increase money be spent on education. The money simply goes into the general fund. Makes me believe that many of those asking for funds “for the children” are just using the kids and parents as pawns in their quest for more money. Its all about the money.
    2. Jason, from the AG’s office, convincingly countered Democrats’ arguments that voters have already preapproved freezing property tax rates. He said that voter’s (in 175 of 178 school districts) lifted only the school spending limits, leaving in place the requirement that mill levy rates continue to decline to offset increasing property assessments. That is, revenues that exceed inflation plus enrollment growth, with the declining mill levy rate in place, can be kept by the school district. None of the local ballot questions for lifting the spending limits asked voters to freeze mill levy rates. For Democrats to say that voters preapproved freezing mill levy rates is simply not true. I don’t know how an objective judge can uphold SB199.

    You were well armed with the facts and presented a complex subject in simple-to-understand terms. You have said in print (if I recall correctly), but not on the TV program, that the big threat posed by the mill levy freeze is that school property taxes will now rise in direct proportion to property assessment increases. Property taxes are back on autopilot. A 50% increase in assessment will result in a 50% increase in the school property tax. The tax increases will start out modestly, but the cumulative effect will be huge. The estimated $1.7 billion increase over 10 years (approx $1460 for a family of four) is probably significantly understated. With property values at depressed levels, I see assessments and taxes with nowhere to go but up.

    Has anyone voiced interest in launching a ballot initiative to require that mill levies be restored to their TABOR requirements?

    Could you list the 3 school districts in the state that have not lifted their school spending limits? Certainly, they have no incentive to lift their limits now, since the new revenue would go into the general fund with no benefit to their district. I wonder how those local school boards will try to pitch lifting the spending limits, now?

    Keep up the good work.

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