With Gov. Bill Ritter’s property tax hike still on trial, the Rocky Mountain News reports that state treasurer Cary Kennedy – who thought up the mill levy “freeze” idea – made a remarkable concession on the witness stand:
State treasurer Cary Kennedy conceded today on the witness stand that a bill passed last year by the legislature alters the way taxes are calculated with the net result that many property owners pay more.
But Kennedy continued to insist the 2007 law, SB 199, does not violate Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Let’s review. Kennedy concedes that the policy change she concocted (and Bill Ritter signed into law) “alters the way taxes are calculated with the net result that many property owners pay more.” Or as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in the state constitution says: “a tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain to any district” requires “voter approval in advance.”
The problem is that Bill Ritter, Cary Kennedy, and the Democrat legislature never bothered to ask Colorado voters to approve what the state treasurer agrees is “a tax policy change” that requires voter approval under the state constitution. They didn’t ask first before raising taxes.
Yet Kennedy still insists everything is on the level. I explained before the reasoning she and her side’s lawyers used to justify the contradiction. And the same response holds true today as yesterday: “the de-Brucing elections voters faced in many school districts were not advertised as authorizing tax increases.”
The Rocky thus explains how Cary Kennedy and other Democratic state officials and lawmakers have ended up angering local school board officials by making them into unwitting liars:
But Kennedy’s interpretation of the local ballot measures is strongly resented by school board members who testified in the trial. They recall promising voters that the ballot initiatives would allow school districts to retain excess revenue, but would not raise taxes.
“I told voters, ‘You can trust me,'” said former Grand Junction school board member Marcia Neal. “Now that mill levy freeze is coming in, and people are saying, ‘I thought you said that wouldn’t happen.'”
Bill Ritter, Cary Kennedy, and the Democrats who run the state legislature are sticking it to the local taxpayers and even some local officials, so the state can be free to spend more on its priorities. This is the kind of tactic that seriously risks the majority party’s favor with most Coloradans. Too bad for the Democrats that most of their party leaders just don’t get it.