by Vande Krol | 5:45 pm, October 4, 2011 | Comments Off
There will be no floor debate, no committee hearings, no amendments. Proposition 103 is already written, and if we approve it we are stuck with it.
Boulder Senator Rollie Heath’s Proposition 103 increases sales and income taxes to raise over $500 million per year, supposedly for education. I applaud Senator Heath for properly proposing this tax increase. He’s following our constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) that requires tax increases be voted on by the people.
A whole slew of groups are trying to circumvent and destroy TABOR.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that property taxes could be increased without our vote. They also ruled that removing a tax exemption is not a tax increase, leading to the “Dirty Dozen” tax increases in 2010 which killed businesses and jobs. The legislature raised fees instead of taxes to get more money, and we got a huge increase in our vehicle registration fees.
Westminster City Councilman Bob Briggs sued the state to end the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Separately, Lobato v. Colorado
would more than double education spending, creating a crisis that would require emergency tax increases. It’s another end-run around our Taxpayer’s Rights. If this assault on TABOR continues, our right to vote on taxes will soon be but a cherished memory.
But Senator Heath got this one right. At least he’s asking us for more tax money. That’s where my appreciation for Heath’s efforts ends.
Heath and his campaign to raise taxes have been, shall we say, less than honest. Heath used fourth grade students as campaign props without asking permission. Robo-calls say it’s a time-out in cuts to education instead of a tax increase. The website for Prop 103 falsely claims that the new revenue will go to education.
The biggest deception of all is in the proposed law itself. It requires the money raised by the tax increase to be spent on education. This is pure folly. Heath knows it and yet it’s his biggest selling point.
The legislature is under no obligation to spend the money on education. Prop 103 is a law, and it is only valid until it is superseded by another law. That law is the budget. Prop 103 will not automatically move money into education. It must be done through the budget, a law that is passed every year by the legislature. They are not obligated to write the budget in accordance with Prop 103.
Heath could have written this as a constitutional amendment to direct the new taxes to education. He chose not to. He knows that the money is not required to be spent on education, yet he and his campaign continue to sell it that way. Heath is also not telling you if the money is
spent on education it will create two huge education budget cuts.
The 2012-13 education budget would have roughly $783 million in extra revenue for education. In 2013-14 there will only be $533 million in extra revenue. That’s a $250 million cut. And when (or if) the temporary tax increase ends in 2017, education funding would lose over $500 million.
As disheartening as all of that is, the second
worst part is that there is no plan for this additional spending to improve education. There is no correlation between higher levels of funding and improvements in educational outcomes as many studies have shown. AJTT.org
compares spending to outcomes. Washington D.C.
spends more per pupil than 47 states and is ranked dead last in outcomes. North Dakota
is outspent by 41 states and has the 6th
highest quality educational system. Money spent on education funding will not guarantee better education.
Now for the worst part: Prop 103 is a job killer. A study by Economics International Corp. found that the proposal would result in a loss of 30,500 jobs. The average family of 4 will pay $400 per year to lose those jobs.
A dishonest tax increase. Future education cuts. Huge job losses. Is this what we want to be stuck with?