My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Here Come The Dems: One Week To Go! 

By and large, the Democrats in charge of the Colorado State Legislature have disciplined themselves to stay in touch with the political center of Colorado. There is almost certainly a calculation that, if they can contain their radical impulses through November, they will almost certainly pick up a few seats to make it even safer for them to go after their real agenda in the two years after that.

But, ocassionally, they do slip and let their true colors show. From last week, via Education News Colorado (and a hat tip to Denise)

The bipartisan proposal to significantly change the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and effectively repeal Amendment 23 was formally introduced Wednesday, setting up an end-of-session debate on two of Colorado's key fiscal issues.

Okay. In what context is this "bipartisan?" Well, a Republican--Steve Johnson of Ft. Collins--is one of the sponsors. But I would hardly use one sponsor as evidence of "bipartisanship," as the article itself notes how the Republicans are hardly united:

Romanoff may face a challenge getting the two-thirds majorities he needs. Some Republicans are talking about an alternative plan . . .

But, then, neither is that evidence of a complete lack of bipartisanship. I just find it very interesting that the first piece of rhetoric designed to garner public support for a Democratic idea is "bipartisanship," but you almost never see that when it's a Republican idea ("on largely partisan lines . . .").

Nevertheless, the idea itself screams of "Democratic money-grab"

. . .the measure would retain TABOR's requirement that voters approve all new taxes and tax rate increases but end the TABOR tax refunds, instead diverting revenues in excess of the TABOR limit into the State Education Fund.

The proposal also would repeal the elements of Amendment 23 that require annual K-12 spending increases (inflation increases plus 1 percent and the 5 percent "maintenance of effort" requirement) and the Amendment 23 prohibition on using education fund dollars to offset general fund spending on education.

In exchange, the amendment beefs up the State Education Fund with the TABOR surpluses plus legislative authority to add extra money to the fund, and creates a "rainy day" fund within the State Education Fund that could be used only under certain circumstances and with a two-thirds legislative vote.

So, let's look at that just a little bit.

They want to end the TABOR refunds: for a couple years there, that didn't matter. But, given that Referendum C was supposed to be worth $3.2 billion, and it actually turned out that it was worth $5.9 billion, that actually means $2.7 billion is in the hands of the government instead of in the hands of the citizens of Colorado. That's about $568 that could have been in the hands of every Coloradan.

Instead, we'll get Senator Windels bragging about how the Legislature has added $182 per pupil funding.

BUT!!! .. . . in exchange, they'll give up Amendment 23.

Woo. Since Amendment 23 was going to expire in two years, anyway.

OHHHH but wait:

The 2008-09 school finance act, House Bill 08-1388, contains an amendment inserted by the House Education Committee that continues the Amendment 23 "maintenance of effort" provision after its scheduled expiration.

So, maybe the legislators will simply wait for their leader to win a concession from Republicans, and then backdoor the remaining provisions of Amendment 23 along with an extension.

The bottom line is that there may have been some hope that the last week of the legislative session could have come and gone without the Democrats reaching straight into your pockets; any such hope seems to be fading.

Let's hope the state Republicans can muster a little backbone and hold the line.

And then use the summer to come up with some really good ideas how to totally revamp education funding in this state. The current model of relying on local property taxes, the state, and little bit from the Feds, makes it a near certainty that every 3-5 years, there will be a bit of a panic regarding education funding.

Somebody ought to address this. Maybe they can start with this.

Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee hears a proposal to raise the $5 bet limit in blackjack and poker games and on slot machines at Colorado casinos.

Maybe it's just me. We can either take Gov. Ritter's way of freezing property taxes to collect an additional $1.7 billion from everyone who owns property, in conjunction with the legislature holding on to the TABOR refunds to the tune of $2.7 billion from every taxpayer . . . or we could see if there's anything to be gained from siphoning off a little of the state's gambling revenue.

I don't know. We'll probably just keep doing what we've always done, so we can keep getting what we've always gotten. Only more expensively.

That's the Democratic way.

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