The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and Governor Bill Ritter are defendants in a case filed by the Independence Institute (disclosure: where I work) and numerous aggrieved taxpayers over a 2007 law that raised property taxes without a proper vote of the people, as required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Denver District Court Judge Christine Habas came down on the side of the people nearly seven months ago, but the Colorado Supreme Court has been silent since – despite reasonable expectations that critical tax revenue issues be addressed in a timely manner.
As Face The State reports, CDE needs the Supreme Court to “hurry up”:
In June, Ritter, a defendant alongside CDE, appealed the decision to the state’s highest court. Oral arguments for the case were heard on Sept. 11. Political insiders predicted the decision would be delivered almost immediately following the Nov. 4 Election, but they have grown increasingly disappointed as the weeks have passed and there is still no ruling.
â€œIâ€™m not reading anything into the delay beyond that it is a big case,â€ said Richard Westfall, attorney for the plaintiffs.
[Denver attorney Jason] Dunn noted the delay in handing down a decision could be because there are multiple opinions being written or there is a swing vote on the bench. â€œPredicting supreme court decision-making is a little like going to Vegas,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s not an exact science.â€
That’s true. But taxpayers like Main Street Cafe owner Evan Gluckman, one of the plaintiffs, also have good reason to get an uneasy feeling about the delay:
Gluckman said â€œboth sides have been pushing for an answer.â€ He believes the freeze was a tax increase and he isnâ€™t sure why it has taken months for the Supreme Court to mull its decision.
â€œItâ€™s so clear on what happened to me,â€ Gluckman said.
In recent months, Gov. Ritter has demonstrated a little cockiness about the whole affair, prompting questions about what he knows about the Supreme Court to gamble taxpayer dollars. (Makes the Vegas analogy apt, doesn’t it?)
Either way, Rocky Mountain Right could be correct that Ritter is “about to step on another landmine”. Meanwhile, however, for a variety of reasons this decision can’t be held up for much longer without creating further chaos.