Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute in Golden, also promised to sue the state, claiming that freezing school districts’ tax rates is a tax policy change that requires statewide voter approval.
“There will definitely be a lawsuit,” Caldara said at a news conference at the Capitol. “No question about it.”
Caldara brought a stack of letters – more than 170 for school districts and 64 for county clerk and recorders – that he plans to send requesting records related to previous school district votes waiving revenue limits.
A press release from House Republican leader Mike May shows approval:
It is a shame that our new governor decided to push the boundaries of our constitution and take more of peopleâ€™s hard-earned money without asking. It was reckless and disrespectful to pass a $1.7 billion tax hike without a vote of the people, and the governor deserves to be challenged in court.
The Independence Institute should be praised for standing up for the rights of the people of Colorado. I wish them luck in their fight against the governorâ€™s property tax hike.
Sad news: The Governor’s office doesn’t want you to pay attention to what he and his Democratic Party are seeking to do. The response is unsurprisingly arrogant:
Evan Dreyer, spokesman for Ritter, called Caldara’s event a “tasteless stunt.”
The funding plan will “help kids, restore taxpayer fairness and help those school districts maintain local control,” he said.
In 175 school districts, voters have approved ballot measures allowing officials to keep revenues over the amount allowed by the state constitution.
The stated three-part opinion is questionable.
1. “Help kids”? Maybe, though not one penny is guaranteed to increase education funding. If it does help kids, then why fear asking voters to approve it?
2. “Restore taxpayer fairness”? Depends on how you look at it. Early on, the Governor made a “winners & losers” concession by picking to give a tax cut to a handful of districts while maintaining the tax hike for many others.
3. “Help those school districts maintain local control”? Apparently, the local control protection in the state constitution isn’t enough, and so school districts need the state to tell them what their voters really meant, rearrange their revenue sources, and keep the excess money raised by the tax hike for other state government priorities. Hmmm, doesn’t exactly sound like maintaining local control to me.
More importantly, different opinions have come down on the legality of Ritter’s back-door tax hike. The most compelling arguments came from Attorney General John Suthers’ office, which demonstrated clearly that Governor Ritter’s new law reflects a change in tax policy without prior voter consent. Under TABOR, to enact a statewide tax policy change, a statewide vote is needed. Furthermore, you can’t reasonably make a retroactive presumption about prior voters’ intentions in local school district elections, under different legal conditions.
So it’s a logical step for the Institute to look at what official information voters actually saw in those previous elections. If the Governor and the pro-tax increase side are so confident about the rightness of their argument, they should have no problem looking at this sort of evidence to decide the highly disputed claim. But just like they think they know what’s good for the people and don’t need their permission, it also appears they also don’t want anyone to examine the facts that might challenge the foundation for their case.
According to Gov. Ritter, it’s simply “tasteless” to take a closer look at the evidence he and the Democrats want us to accept on faith as holy writ. Or is it just “tasteless” to stand up for the rights of Colorado taxpayers? Hard to say.
If the tax policy change is really as good and beneficial as the Governor tells us that it is, he could simply follow the state constitution and ask first. For more on this topic, please read the following: