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“Great Caesar’s Ghost!”: Exposing Knee-Jerk Tax Increases “For the Children” January 24, 2008

Posted by bendegrow in Colorado Governor, Property tax increase, statewide, TABOR.
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On the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel site, Rick Wagner takes a club to the constant screams of interest groups for more money to fund K-12 education. Most amusing was this hypothetical dialogue and subsequent comment:

Government: “There’s a crisis in education. Something must be done immediately! The children’s achievement level is shocking. All that can be known with certainty is that it has nothing to do with my prior policies and the only solution is more money.”

Taxpayer: “Is that really the solution? Maybe we should look at our methods first.”

Government: “Great Caesar’s Ghost man! There is no time for that. We need money now! Why do you hate children?”

When we pursue questions about why achievement is so lacking, we are usually rewarded with a discussion having something to do with Bush, TABOR, Reagan, evil conservatives and tax cuts for the wealthy.

The actual problem in Colorado is that we have a system under the disastrous Amendment 23 that requires increased education funding no matter what the result. How many successful systems exist that are premised on a continuous increase in resources unrestricted by results?

It’s an important reminder that lawmakers and bureaucrats have an easier time accessing the taxpayer’s pocketbook when they frame the issue in the interest of schools and children. It worked for Amendment 23. More recently, Gov. Ritter did just that with his statewide property tax increase, but didn’t even bother to ask the voters as the state constitution requires.

Of course, our schools need some amount of resources to function well. But seldom if ever do you see any serious ideas about restructuring the education system to ensure money is spent with a high level of efficiency. The results are there to show that spending more has very little or no relationship with academic performance or growth.

Yet as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, you can expect cries for more money based on some calculation that compares our state to the national average of education spending in some area or another. Is the national average of educational performance better than in Colorado? Not exactly. Well, then, somebody has got some explaining to do.

Colorado spends more than $9,000 per student in our K-12 public schools. Is the money really being spent as wisely as it could be, if we just had the political will to fix the system? The sad answer is it takes less political will to cajole a little more money from each of us than to do the hard work of reform.


Another Month, Another Tax January 18, 2008

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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We’re curious if anyone has noticed a pattern with the Denver Post editorial pages.  Like clockwork they propose a new tax once a month.  The latest is a hefty Federal gas tax.

Usually, the author of these monthly tax increase articles is Bob Ewegen.  We have noted here and elsewhere that this monthly pattern exists with him.  This time, the author hid behind the “Denver Editorial Board” byline.  Care to bet this is Bob again?

“Freeze” mocked January 11, 2008

Posted by jgmpk in Property tax increase, statewide.
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The Post‘s token conservative (bet he hates being called that) David Harsanyi’s piece today ripping Gov. Ritter’s magical ballooning property tax freeze (which CUT blogger bendegrow was staggered by a couple of days ago) is both funny and horrifying:

Approximately 90 percent of Colorado’s elected officials blatantly deceive taxpayers.

Now, that’s just an estimate. You see, when you “estimate,” you can say anything. . . .

Turns out that Ritter’s property-tax “freeze” is now “estimated” to generate $2 billion more in revenue than lawmakers “estimated” when approving the deal eight months ago. When the legislature first said yes, it was “estimated” at $48 million yearly. Then it was “estimated” at $114 million. Where it will be “estimated” next nobody knows.

Amendment 23, Ref. C and, forebodingly, TABOR are mentioned.

Another Day, Another Carbon Tax January 11, 2008

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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The left has figured out a method to raise taxes:

1.  Define something as a sin.  Smoking, Alcohol, Carbon.

2.  Come up with a new guilt tax and a way to spend it outside Government channels, claiming that it is “revenue neutral.”  The favored constituiency that receives these funds is never the constituiency that is paying the taxes.

3.  Put it on the ballot and hope it passes.

4.  Let an election cycle or two pass and repeat.

Colorado Confidential announced that the Carbon Tax Center is in the process of putting an issue on the ballot this year that supposedly will cost each household $42 a year.  These do gooders have supposedly done polling and found Coloradoans willing to pay this tax:

The group conducted a statewide poll on the proposals, the results of which will be released later this month. But McKinnon, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, said that the data show support for the project among nearly all age and party groups.

They give away their game with the following comment

That is why the two “return” approaches discussed above — carbon dividends or tax-shifting — can turn the carbon tax into a progressive tax. Because income and energy consumption are strongly correlated, most poor households will get more back in carbon dividends than they will pay in the carbon tax. The overall effect of a carbon tax-shift could be equitable and perhaps even “progressive” (benefiting lower-earning households).

Carbon Taxes are a poorly disguised income redistribution scheme, and nothing else. 

From Jon Caldara’s Stealth Blog January 10, 2008

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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You would think that it would take this author, in particular, less than five months to discover that Jon Caldara has his own blog.  Not only that, he is posting CUT announcements on that blog, but not here.  We’ll fix that, at least this time:

Great event coming up from the Colorado Union of Taxpayers(CUT).  On Thursday, January 17th, from 7am to 8:30am at the Panera Bread Company (1350 Grant Street) join the discussion, “What are they going to do to us?”  Hosted by newly appointed Senator Bill Cadman and newly appointed Representative Douglas Bruce.  The cost will be $10 for the continental breakfast and $30 for the 2008 CUT dues.  To RSVP call (303) 759-9936 or (303) 366-3408.

As we write this we were wondering if CUT has a cut rate dues schedule for bloggers.   Just a thought.  (Laughing hard.)  

Property Tax Revenue Estimate More Than Doubles January 9, 2008

Posted by bendegrow in Colorado Governor, Property tax increase, statewide, Referendum C, TABOR.
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From the Denver Post today comes staggering, but not altogether surprising, news:

Gov. Bill Ritter’s property-tax freeze will generate an estimated $2 billion more over 10 years than lawmakers were expecting when they approved it eight months ago, according to the latest calculations.

The revenue leap fired up Republican lawmakers — who were already calling the freeze an “illegal tax hike” — as the legislature convenes today for its 2008 session.

The freeze, which prevents local property taxes for schools from dropping, is now projected to result in nearly $3.8 billion in state money by 2017. That’s more than double the $1.74 billion estimated when lawmakers passed the governor’s proposal in May. [Emphasis added]

Depending on which school district your home or business inhabits, this means even twice the pain for your wallet than previously estimated. Sounds like a rerun of the Referendum C story.

We can’t forget that it is Gov. Bill Ritter and the Democratic Party who own this unconstitutional proposal (i.e., they should have asked the voters first!). They’ve tried dodging the argument and playing dumb. But all lawmakers and public officials need to be kept accountable to the taxpayers they represent.

Cross posted at Ritter Watch

Ritter Transportation Panel Calls for More Taxes January 7, 2008

Posted by bendegrow in Colorado Governor.
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Another panel commissioned by Gov. Bill Ritter, another set of recommended tax increases:

Governor Bill Ritter’s 32-member blue-ribbon panel is recommending a $100 average increase in vehicle registration fees as part of its $1.5 billion plan to pay for much-needed transportation infrastructure maintenance and improvements.The road funding proposals include:

  • Increase vehicle registration fees by $100 on average.
  • Raise gas tax by 13 cents a gallon.
  • Icrease [sic] the fee on hotel rooms and car rentals to $6 a day.
  • Increasing the state sales tax by 0.35 percent.
  • Increase severance tax by 1.7 percent.

This is starting to sound like a tired theme. I don’t know about your middle-class family, but all these proposals alone would take a significant chunk out of my household budget. Is this what Coloradans voted for when they elected Ritter to be governor in 2006?

Cross posted at Ritter Watch

Imagine An Oil Gusher January 6, 2008

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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If one reads between the lines of a Durango Herald story, it is entirely possible that Colorado and Utah will be the beneficiaries of severance tax revenues beyond imagination if shale oil production comes on line.

The article talks about being able to produce one million barrels of oil per acre.  At today’s relatively low prices, that is $100 million dollars of production an acre.

In an effort to scoff at the level of production that can be reached, Randy Udall, Mark Udall’s brother seems to acknowledge that production could be 100,000 barrels a day.  Environmentalists always seem to grossly under estimate potential energy production, usually by a factor of 20, so assume 2 million barrels of oil a day.

Figure severance taxes to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $8 million a day and ramping up as the price of oil ramps up.

Does anyone really think that Colorado and the nation will not develop this oil?

Trying to Outguess Bill Ritter January 5, 2008

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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Sometime next week, Bill Ritter will address the Colorado Legislature.  We’ve been trying to figure out which tax he plans to ask the voters to raise.

It won’t be a tax for transportation.  Democrats hate transportation.  We can rule that out.

Health Care?  Well, maybe.  It seems unlikely given that the Democrats expect to take the White House and hold Congress.  That almost certainly means that health care will be nationalized.  Since Ritter probably thinks that he has only one shot at raising taxes, it likely won’t be for health care.

We haven’t heard “It’s for the children” in quite a while.


We know!  He is going to raise taxes to pay for a cloth factory next to the Capitol building.  He will need it to supply all of the 2008 blue ribbon commissions that he will doubtless appoint.  Some blue ribbon will be left over for hair bows-for the children.

We could only hope that his scheme would be that benign.  It won’t be.

Property Tax Increase January 4, 2008

Posted by awatcher in Uncategorized.
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Mike Saccone has a blurb on how Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction will attempt to defend the mill levy tax increase to voters next year.

He is going to play dumb:

Buescher said he knew the measure would prevent school district tax rates from falling in Mesa County, but he had no idea how severe it would be: “It would have been a harder vote if I had realized how much valuation was going to increase in Mesa County. But we didn’t have that number.”

By now, every legislator in the state should have figured out that the legislative council underestimates new tax revenues by a factor of 3.  10 billion vs 3.5 billion for Ref C. 

The Colorado Legislative Council’s estimates of the bill’s total impact during the current tax cycle increased from $48.2 million in April to $122.8 million in December.

Legislators may play dumb, or they may think voters are dumb.   Bill Ritter has announced that there will be a tax increase on the ballot in 2008.  He is just not sure which one.  Care to bet that Bernie Buescher votes for it?  Care to bet that its proceeds will be underestimated by one third, again?