Too much money headed for schools?
September 14, 2007
DENVER ” A school-finance measure that blocks an anticipated decline in property taxes to provide more funding for education would raise more than double the amount estimated in its first year, bolstering arguments for Republican critics of the plan who want it repealed.
“We hope you will agree with us to end policies that kick taxpayers while they are down,” wrote a group of GOP lawmakers, that included Rep. Cory Gardner of Yuma. “Now is not the time to increase taxes on Colorado families.”
When passed by the Legislature this year, nonpartisan Legislative Council staff estimated the tax rate freeze would generate $48 million the first year. A recalculation by the council, done at the request Gardner, found it would generate an estimated $114 million.
“These forecasts change; they can change dramatically in three or six months,” Gov. Bill Ritter said. “We’re not deciding now that we are going to do anything with that until we see what those numbers are.”
He said he will decide what is “fiscally prudent” after reviewing final numbers, which will be available the first of the year.
The law is expected to raise an estimated $1.7 billion for education over 11 years by freezing property tax rates in districts with relatively low tax rates, blocking any declines for the foreseeable future.
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In some districts with the highest rates, the property tax rate would be reduced.
Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, plans to file a lawsuit over the measure on the grounds the freeze is a tax increase that violates constitutional limits on taxes passed by voters.
“The insult is that the legislature and the governor covered up the constitution and passed a tax increase without asking the voters,” Caldara said. “Our constitution is clear: You always ask first.”