Colorado lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are worried about taxes. In that state, though, the concern is that voters this November will approve three ballot measures that will cut taxes.
Amendment 60 would require Colorado's school districts to cut property taxes. The state would then be forced to come up with ways to pay for its young residents' educations.
Amendment 61 would prevent Colorado from borrowing money. The ballot issue also would limit the borrowing power of local governments.
Proposition 101 would cut Colorado's state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.5 percent in 2011 and to 3.5 percent gradually over time. It also would reduce or eliminate taxes and fees on vehicle purchases, registrations, leases and rentals during the next four years. And the proposition would do away with all state and local taxes and fees on telecommunication services except 911 fees.
An analysis by the Colorado legislature found that if the three measures pass, the Centennial State would lose $2.1 billion in revenue and would be forced to increase school spending by $1.6 billion to make up the shortfall created. That unexpected expenditure would mean that Colorado would have to spend nearly all of its general fund budget on education.
And what's the going price at which voters will sell out their state's fiscal future and their kids' educations? $1,360 a year. That's the estimate of what the average Colorado family would save on taxes if the three referenda pass in November.
All this talk of tax cutting comes on the heels of the widely publicized fiscal problems of Colorado Springs earlier this year.
Anti-tax residents there decided they were fine with paying less taxes and getting fewer services. Streetlights in Colorado Springs went dark. Bus routes were stopped. Road repair was halted. Trash piled up in city park garbage cans.
But hey, folks had smaller tax bills. And that's all that counts, right?
I know Colorado is a Western state, but really people, do you want to live like it's the Wild West of the 19th century instead of 2010?
Nobody wants to overpay for anything, including government services. But instead of simply slashing taxes, and the associated community needs and amenities that the tax money pays for, citizens should demand lawmakers take closer looks at just what services their governments should provide and at what levels.
By simply branding all taxes as bad and using ballot initiatives to slash them -- regardless of the real-life costs -- then the voters are no better than the lawmakers they blame for the taxes' existence.
What services would you give up in exchange for lower taxes?
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