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Another Democrat, Another Tax November 27, 2007

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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Rep. Claire Levy has a problem.  She got involved with what people in Boulder are calling a legalized land grab by her campaign’s treasurer.  If she had kept quiet, the scandal might have passed her by.  She didn’t keep quiet, and now she is in damage control mode.

Now, in what appears (to the commenters on the link we provide) to be a diversionary tactic, she has announced the intention to create a new tax for a pet project.

The problem for Levy is that the transportation blue ribbon panel has already laid claim to this particular tax, but it is nice to see that she is always thinking of new (to her) ways to separate taxpayers from their money.

Of course, the biggest taxer in the state is our friend Bill Ritter.  One of the best in depth analysis of Ritter’s spending plans on transportation that we have seen is by Morgan Liddick at Summit Daily News:

Pretty soon we’re going to be talking about real money here. By the way, this new tax is intended to replace the revenue stream currently provided by Senate Bill 1 of 1997 and House Bill 1310 of 2002, which provided CDOT with $272 million this year.

Apparently, this funding mechanism had the fatal flaw of being sensitive to the state’s economic condition; during the last recession, funds tapered off as growth slowed. Rest assured, the new tax won’t let that happen again.

And the $272 million which will probably be raised by the old mechanism next year? If you believe that will be counted as part of the billion buck boost, well … that’s just cute. Credulous, but cute. Instead, it will reportedly be transferred to the higher education segment of the budget, together with the $59 million of “new money” — remember the code — that Governor Ritter has already requested.

Grab Your Wallet November 25, 2007

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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The Grand Junction Sentinel is reporting that a former Democrat candidate for the legislature has submitted a proposed ballot issue to the legislative leadership council:

In ballot language submitted last week to the Colorado Legislative Council, Fort Collins resident and failed 2006 Democratic House candidate Sue Radford proposes charging energy companies an annual fee for every ton of carbon dioxide they produce. The fee, the ballot language states, would have to be passed along to consumers on their electrical bills…

“I am somebody who is deeply concerned about the way our climate is changing,” Radford said. “A carbon tax is the most fair and comprehensive and transparent and enforceable way of dealing with the problem.”

Under Radford’s ballot question, sponsored by the Colorado Clean Energy Tax Shift, all carbon-tax revenue would be refunded to taxpayers through reductions in sales, business personal property and payroll taxes. A portion of the revenue also would be rebated to taxpayers.

Clever leftist that Radford is, she thinks she has found a way to do a massive income transfer to her favored constituiency from those who own buildings and homes that must be heated and lit.

While her proposal is made to appear to send money back to us regular folks, not a cent will go to anyone until the first targeted tax recipient (EIC) is paid in full:

Earned income tax credit supplement fully funded at 20% of federal level.
Thirty percent (30%) of remaining funds used to reduce sales tax.
Twenty percent (20%) of remaining funds used to rebate business personal property tax.
Twenty percent (20%) of remaining funds used to rebate payroll taxes.
Thirty percent (30%) of remaining funds used for per capita rebate to residents.

Pretty clever, eh?   The ballot issue is far more scary than the Sentinel would lead one to believe.

It even has a tax ratcheting device that is more severe than any one might imagine:

The annual change in the fee from the previous year will be limited to twenty-five dollars ($25) per metric ton carbon dioxide or ten percent (10%) of the fee from the previous year, whichever amount is higher.

Selling Gold Watches in Colorado November 24, 2007

Posted by awatcher in Colorado Governor, Colorado Legislature.
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Holy Cow!  Some fool invited me to blog here, too.

“Gold watching” is an old tradition among those who allocate government funds.  It is a term for putting something that the taxpayer or tax consumer really wants below the funding line as a means of getting as many programs with less support as possible funded (above the line).

Anyone who has observed Colorado politicians in the past few years has seen gold watching being used against the taxpayer’s interest in the most classic way.  Ref C was supposed to be a timeout from TABOR to solve three problems.  Borrowing from a Mark Hillman – Amy Oliver study:

Voters were assured by Ref C proponents that K-12 education, colleges and universities, and health care would split the lion’s share of the resources if the measure passed…

However, a closer look at the state budget shows that the supposed beneficiaries have not benefited nearly as much as the  remainder of the state budget.  Since the 2005-06 budget, passed prior to Ref C, general fund spending has increased by $1 billion, or 16.1 percent. Spending on Ref C “targets”—K-12, higher ed and health care—has grown by just 11.9 percent, or $557 million. Meanwhile, the remainder of the general fund, which wasn’t targeted for a Ref C infusion, has grown by 28.7 percent, or $446 million.

Now that Bill Ritter and his band of merry taxaholics control the legislature, they have conveniently forgotten their promises to the public.  They know that the public wants more money spent on higher education, so they will ask for another, targeted tax increase, with the money to come out of individual taxpayer’s pockets.  They think that the public can be tricked into paying for the same gold watch (higher education) two or three times while they siphon huge sums for other less popular spending projects.

Another gold watch tactic is to use an unpopular tax source to fund less popular programs.  Sin taxes are traditional sources of revenue.  No non-smoker  likes smokers, and the more it costs to smoke, a voter might think, the fewer smokers there might be. 

It is very likely that the next “sin” tax target will be the oil and gas industry, specifically, severance taxes.  With Oil hovering around $100 a barrel and Natural Gas that is like to hit $10 per thousand, what voter wouldn’t be willing to see the state take some of that money and use it for … the voter will hardly care.

The Republicans have tried to head them off at the plateau by proposing that severance taxes go toward funding higher education.  This ploy recognizes two facts 1) higher severance taxes are likely to be approved by the voters and 2) the voters want a good higher ed program.  If the Republicans can direct that fire-hose of new government funding into higher ed, they might, just possibly, be able to slow the growth of government in other areas.

The Democrats are having none of this because it destroys their gold watch plans.  Care to bet that the four month delay in approving drilling on the Roan Plateau that Ken Salazar negotiated with BLM by holding a political appointee hostage was more about giving Democrats time to figure out how to use the severance taxes and still be able to gold watch education than it was about saving the plateau?

Since this isn’t my blog, (he he) I’ll make a rash prediction:  Before Bill Ritter leaves office, he will find a way to remove his objections to drilling on the Roan Plateau as long as the windfall (more like avalanche) in new money goes to his own projects, none of which will be higher education.  Taxpayers will be asked to fund Higher Ed by digging deeper into their own pockets – again!

Note:  This is the first time I’ve used this blogging software, so I have no idea about what I will get or if I can edit it.  Have patience.

I am, as always, a watcher, though here, I might be “awatcher” 

Hello world! November 19, 2007

Posted by davekopel in Uncategorized.
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