Throw out TABOR, Gallagher and 23 and start over
Last Tuesday, about 63 of my very best friends and I got together in Eagle to talk about money. Your money.
A couple of years ago, Summit County was in deep financial difficulties. We decided something needed to be done quickly and we made some cuts and reorganized. We dodged the bullet and everything is better today.
Now, two years later, the state of Colorado has reached that same point of reality. But the ship of state for the state is not as easy to turn as the ship of state for the county.
The result is there are a number of people pointing fingers while Gov. Bill Owens announces in his State of the State speech that everything is better now and there is nothing to worry about. Bull pucky.
Regardless of your political leanings, it is not hard to see where the problems started happening.
It has to do with taxes and how they are collected and spent.
It has to do with the fact Colorado has a terribly easy system to put something on the ballot and amend our constitution.
It has to do with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), the Gallagher Amendment and Amendment 23 for education.
TABOR limits the growth of government. Gallagher limits the amount that residential property can be taxed. Amendment 23 guarantees a percentage of state revenues will be spent on schools.
Let’s see. Reduce the amount of money available for government. Reduce the amount we can receive from property tax. And then guarantee we will spend more each year for education.
At some point, this all reaches critical mass.
Restrict income and then mandate more spending.
It does not make sense, but do any of you remember having this explained to you when we voted to support these things? I don’t.
Anyway, that is what created the mess. Now for the solutions.
We could have a constitutional convention and rewrite the Constitution. That has been suggested by a couple of state legislators.
I am not sure they know what the unintended consequences might be if they open up the constitution for discussion.
We could have a vote to repeal any or all of the amendments. Don’t hold your breath.
It would take a two-thirds vote of both houses of the state Legislature to even get it on the ballot. There are some at our capitol who like some or all of the amendments so that is unlikely.
Gov. Owens has targeted education and Amendment 23 for change.
He did not support it when it was a ballot issue but claimed some credit for the funding when he ran for re-election two years ago.
He has publicly stated he feels any amendment that requires spending runs contrary to good government. He has also said he will never support changing TABOR.
The day the Legislature went back into session, he did say he would sit down and work on a compromise between TABOR supporters and Amendment 23 supporters. I am not sure what that means.
No one wants to talk about Gallagher because a change was on the ballot this past November and it failed with a major thud all over the state.
After four hours working very hard, our group did not come up with a clear consensus on what needed to be changed.
The forum was put on by Club 20 and the Bighorn Center at the Brush Creek Center in Eagle. They did a great job of putting together the topics and had a neat way to register responses.
Each participant had a hand-held transmitter to register responses.
They would flash issues and solutions on two large screens and then ask for responses. The “groupthink” was tabulated immediately and we knew how 63 people felt within seconds.
The results were also portrayed in gradients so that we could see how the group was leaning as well as specific responses.
Maybe we will have elections like that some day. Election results in seconds. It will put all the election pundits out of business.
We would know immediately that the Safeway zoning had passed by nine votes. Amazing.
My thought is we should repeal all three amendments and start all over again. It could not be any worse than it is now.
County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom writes a Thursday column for the Summit Daily News.
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