Face the State has the latest on the court case requesting a vote of the people on Gov. Bill Ritter’s statewide property tax increase:
The State Board of Education, claiming that CDE is the wrong agency to be targeted, has asked the court to be removed as a defendant. Meanwhile, Ritter has sought to intervene as defendant. A Denver District Court hearing has been set for May 5.
State Board of Education member Bob Schaffer, R-Fort Collins, believes Ritter has a lot at stake in the courtsâ€™ pending decision, having approved a property tax hike over the objections of the stateâ€™s attorney general.
â€œHe has a clear interest in proving the attorney general wrong,â€ said Schaffer. â€œWhile the massive tax increase bill was passing, the legislature and governor understood that they were likely in violation of the law and the constitution.”
I know, I know. The money from the property tax increase is supposed to be “for the children.” Clearly, since I want to honor the state constitution and have the people of Colorado vote first, this makes me very cold and heartless person.
Or not. It looks like the plaintiffs have a strong case:
According to [former deputy attorney general Jason] Dunn, Ritterâ€™s legal briefs have conceded that the provision was a â€œtax policy change.â€ He sees the lawsuit opponentsâ€™ case hanging on the argument that local â€œde-Brucingâ€ elections in 175 Colorado school districts already fulfilled the constitutionâ€™s popular vote requirement.
But Dunn pointed out that most instances of the local ballot language specifically sanctioned districts to keep extra revenues â€œwithout raising taxes.â€
â€œThose elections were not pitched to voters as, â€˜Later, can we change your mill levy?â€™,â€ said Dunn. â€œThose elections never contemplated anything like this.â€
[Mesa County Commissioner Janet] Rowland said the same was true in her school district.
â€œThe language from the Resolution that was approved by the Mesa County School District 51 School Board, which ultimately authorized placing the question on the ballot, was clear that it applied to non-tax revenue and would in fact not raise taxes,â€ she said.
Dunn believes the plaintiffsâ€™ case is strong, but believes the results are less certain if the case reaches the stateâ€™s highest judicial body.
â€œThe Supreme Court has shown great distaste for TABOR,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s hard to predict what will happen at that level.â€
Yes, the case likely will head to the Colorado Supreme Court, where taxpayers may need to cross their fingers. But only on one hand – the other needs to hang on to your wallet.
Cross posted at Colorado Taxpayers