High-Ranking Democrat: Property Tax Hike Not Just for Schools

One year ago today, Gov. Bill Ritter announced his “Children’s Amendment,” which ended up passing as part of the 2007 School Finance Act – effectively raising property taxes on homes and businesses without a constitutional vote of the people.

Now comes the revelation from a high-ranking member of Ritter’s own Democratic Party: The money generated from the tax hike isn’t just to fund schools.

The chairman of the powerful Joint Budget Committee has acknowledged on the record that a sweeping statewide property-tax hike pushed through last year by his fellow Democrats will subsidize new social programs–not just schools, as originally promised.

Democrat Bernie Buescher, of Grand Junction, said in a JBC meeting this week that some of the millions raised by the controversial tax hike will be used on Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter’s “Building Blocks” program expanding low-income health care coverage.

Buescher was responding to a challenge moments earlier from Republican Rep. Al White, the House GOP’s member on the committee, who had expressed frustration that the new tax revenue was being diverted from statewide education funding. White was the only Republican to support the tax hike, which Ritter and his legislative allies call a “mill-levy freeze.” It will cost taxpayers $3.8 billion over the next 10 years.

Of course, I’ve pointed out many times that there was no guarantee the money raised from the tax hike would fund schools. But it’s interesting to see such a high-ranking Democrat admit it publicly, especially one whose very vote for the tax increase last year has put him in political jeopardy.

All Bill Ritter and his statehouse Democrat friends had to do was ASK for a vote of the people, but instead they chose to violate the state constitution and get sued. Why? It’s becoming more apparent that at least one reason is the disingenuous nature of their plan to raise the money “for the children.” Colorado taxpayers aren’t going to keep buying the deception.

For the uninitiated, you can follow the saga of Gov. Ritter’s unconstitutional property tax hike back in time (more links below):

– February 11: “Date set for tax hike suit showdown”

– January 9: “Property tax revenue estimate more than doubles”

– September 13: “Democrats still not owning up to tax increase”

– August 2: “Ritter balks at Institute examining case for tax increase”

– July 27: “Democrats attempt to deceive about tax hike scheme”

– June 18: “Consequences of supporting a property tax increase”

– June 6: “Four weeks since Ritter hiked your property taxes”

– May 10: “Ritter signs property tax hike, sticks finger in taxpayers’ eyes”

– May 9: “Yes, it’s time to sue: arrogant tax hike leaves little choice”

– May 3: “iVoices: Hear AG Suthers explain need for vote on tax hike”

– May 3: “Harsanyi: Why not ask voters first?”

– May 1: “Colorado Dems ram through bill, snub voters, raise taxes”

– April 25: “Colorado schools keep raising funds from property taxes”

– April 16: “Toe to toe with the treasurer on a touted tax increase”

– March 20: “When is a tax increase not a tax increase?”

– March 13: “The tax-and-spend Ritter chronicles: K-12 Education”

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