The latest update in the saga of Gov. Bill Ritter’s “school” property tax hike …
The State Board of Education, one of two defendants in a lawsuit from taxpayers who say they should have been asked first under the requirements of the state constitution, is hiding from public view:
When deciding whether to fight or effectively bow out of a lawsuit challenging a politically volatile property tax freeze, the state’s education board opted for secret meetings instead of a public vote, records show.
E-mails obtained Monday by The Denver Post reveal internal turmoil between a cadre of Republican members, who argue that the governor-backed freeze is unconstitutional, and the panel’s Republican chairwoman, who has blocked attempts at public discussion.
Critics say board members ran afoul of state open-meeting laws by making decisions in private and are using closed-door sessions to dodge accountability.
According to a letter obtained by Face The State through the Colorado Open Records Act, the process raised the concerns of vice-chairman Bob Schaffer, R-Fort Collins. In a March 29 e-mail, Schaffer requested of [chairman Pamela Jo] Suckla that the Board take a formal position by way of a public vote on whether the department would â€œdefend the lawsuit or [agree with] the claims against the state.â€
In a separate email dated February 21, Schaffer said such a vote would establish the boardâ€™s support for the â€œTaxpayerâ€™s Bill of Rights principle that the legislature ask the voters first before socking them with $3.8 billion in new property taxes.â€
All the people of Colorado are asking for, and all they deserve, is an open and public vote by the State Board of Education. The Board meets today for its monthly work session in Denver. Will they put the issue on the agenda for a vote, or will they go into hiding for another month?