On PointVincent Carroll, editor of the editorial pages, writes his On Point column most weekdays. He is also an author and freelance writer. Reach Vincent Carroll at carrollv@RockyMountainNews.com.
Carroll: A slap at taxpayers
Have statehouse Democrats planted a bomb with a slow-burning fuse within their own ranks by proudly freezing property tax rates so that future tax bills can rise? Very possibly. The detonation might not occur for years, of course, after today’s lawmakers by and large have moved on, but voters won’t bother with such distinctions.
If property taxes are escalating, say, a decade from now because of another hot real estate market and the fact that rates no longer ratchet down, voters will simply take out their anger on the present culprits’ successors.
The timing of the Democrats’ property tax gamble is somewhat ironic, as it occurs when resentment over soaring tax bills elsewhere is reaching a peak. Coloradans have largely been sheltered from this national trend by the very law that has just now been purged. From now on we’ll have to rely instead on our local school boards to cut rates if tax collections skyrocket. So good luck to one and all!
Last month the Tax Foundation released a report estimating that as a fraction of personal income, the state and local tax burden nationally will reach an all-time high this year of 11 percent. As the author, economist Curtis Dubay, explains, part of the reason is that “property tax collections have risen significantly for several years as local government officials apparently did not ratchet down rates enough to prevent a surge of revenue as the value of real estate soared between 2001 and 2006.”
As you might expect, this study estimates Colorado’s state-local tax burden, at 10.4 percent of income, as below the national average. Still, it’s well above the bottom tier of states. And Colorado’s ranking is rising quickly: It jumped from 41 on the state-local tax burden list in 2000 to No. 30 this year.
If you listen to some of our elected politicians at the state Capitol, meanwhile, you’ll realize that they won’t be satisfied until we’re vying for a Top 10 spot. And perhaps we’re on our way to that lofty destination, too, given the fuse they lit this week on property taxes.
Charter schools hammered
Charter school opponents in the legislature — a proudly reactionary bunch — are enjoying the last laugh of the session despite a series of earlier setbacks.
Never mind that that one of their leaders, Colorado Springs Democrat Mike Merrifield, resigned as chairman of the House Education Committee after a nasty e-mail of his came to light, or that their plan to eliminate the State Charter School Institute fizzled. Lawmakers who detest parental choice are an implacable lot who never lose sight of their goal. So with the session winding down, they exacted revenge. At the same time lawmakers were freezing property tax rates in order to raise more money for schools, they actually slashed funding for charter school facilities.
How’s that for irony: The parents of the 45,000 or so students who attend public charter schools will not only have to pay higher property taxes in many cases; they’ll also get less help from the state.
Vincent Carroll is editor of the editorial pages. Reach him at carrollv@RockyMountain
Rely on local school boards to cut tax rates? Ha, ha, that''s a good one. School districts are so flush with money now they don't know what to do with it all. Please list the democrat and republican politicians who voted for this tax increase. I intend to do my part in returning these fat-cats to the private sector.Posted by wally on May 3, 2007 07:05 AM
Why are we surprised the Democrats raised taxes? That is what they do!!! Their solutions always involve more government, higher taxes and more spending. What did we expect with the Colorado Legislative and Executive branches controlled by the Democrats? Duh!!!Posted by Jim on May 3, 2007 08:09 AM
There's a bomb going off right now. Jeffco's property assesments are just now hitting the taxpayer's mailboxs and many are showing increases of 30% and more.
But since Jeffco is run by Republican's, this is HUGE tax fiasco will never see the light of day from Vince.Posted by on May 3, 2007 08:16 AM
The Democrats actually got more than one victory in the legislature for their anti charter school agenda. Representative Mike Merrifield did not resign his duties on the House Education Committee. I have an email from Mike stating so. The last minute budget cutting they did for charter schools was dirty politics.Posted by Rex on May 3, 2007 08:51 AM
The greed is unconscionable given the foreclosure rate.Posted by Bob on May 3, 2007 09:10 AM
"The greed is unconscionable given the foreclosure rate".
But they have to get their money out of you before your house is forclosed on. Way to go Ritter and Co.! Ref C just didn't give you enough of our money so you had to RAISE taxes on us (mine went up 7.5%) too!Posted by Elwood on May 3, 2007 10:11 AM
Mr. Ritter and his puppet Senators who voted for this tax increase are cowards. Why are they afraid to let the people vote on this? This is only the start of new and higher taxes and fees, the puppets like the word fee instead of tax. Trust me, as your reading this they are thinking of new taxes and fees. We could be in for a long and expensive number of years with these Democrats.Posted by Bill on May 3, 2007 01:30 PM
We already have Amendment 23 guaranteeing cost of living increases regardless of the state of the economy, and there has been little improvement in the schools. Because of this guarantee, we now here higher education is being shortchanged, so we need even more taxes. Enough already!
(I hear the General Assembly will pass a law requiring all cars to have automatic transmissions, as the public does not know how to shift for itself)
This is the precise reason TABOR was put into effect years ago. I've always been ready to pay for our schools, but it's time to put our collective foot down - especially since this comes right on the heels of REF C. They won't get my vote for tax increases or 'givebacks' ever again.Posted by more of the same on May 3, 2007 02:24 PM
Congratulations Colorado. You voted for "Tax" Ritter and majority Democrat power now get ready to open those wallets for their beloved teachers' union! The Democrats' fealty is not to Colorado taxpayers but to their base - the unions.Posted by CC on May 3, 2007 03:17 PM
The most powerful block of voters in the State of Colorado is the teachers union. The teachers union is a goverment monopoly that needs to be broken up. It's time to stop letting the democrat educrats run the state.
We are paying more now more than ever for education and getting less. Sue Windels Mike Merrifield and Tax-Ritter want our money to give to laggard schools filled with job protectionist teachers who have never had to compete for their jobs.Posted by Rex on May 3, 2007 07:32 PM