Archives for September 2015

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Turn over every stone before asking for more taxes

9/28/2015

By Laura Carno

Colorado Springs voters will have a decision to make this November. Will they approve yet one more tax increase, or will they ask the city leaders to sharpen their pencils and tighten their belts?

Politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — like to grow government. And the only way they can grow government is to require taxpayers to foot the bill. We are lucky in Colorado that we have the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which requires the politicians to put the tax hike to a vote of the people. And when they ask us for more money, we need to be very skeptical about whether they need it or not. The voters are in the driver’s seat. The politicians need our permission to raise taxes.

In Colorado Springs, Issue 2C will be on the Nov. 3 ballot, and would increase the sales tax on purchases made within the city limits. If passed, this increase of 0.62 percent would take the sales tax in the city of Colorado Springs to 8.25 percent, far above the average in Colorado of 7.39 percent. This $50 million annual tax increase would be in effect for five years and would be dedicated to road repairs and improvements. No one disputes the need for road repairs. The dispute arises over how best to pay for them.

One interesting twist: Republican Mayor John Suthers actually campaigned on raising taxes.

A Colorado Springs group — Colorado Springs Forward — is hoping to raise $100,000 to support the tax increase. According to the Colorado Springs Independent: “The campaign will be funded by donations from nonprofits, community leaders and professional organizations, such as the Pikes Peak Association of Realtors, the Housing and Building Association of Colorado Springs, the Regional Business Alliance and auto dealers, among others.”

But not all business interests are supporting the tax increase. In fact, the Colorado Springs Business Journal called the tax hike “unethical and imprudent.” Their concern, in part, is that a sales tax is regressive, and hurts the poor and elderly the most.

Americans For Prosperity Colorado hired Steve Anderson, a CPA with experience in municipal budgets, to review the city’s budgets and audits and propose options within the existing city budget to find an annual $50 million for road repairs — without raising taxes. Anderson came up with many ideas and Americans for Prosperity Colorado detailed these ideas for the mayor and the City Council.

But the mayor and the City Council aren’t interested in Anderson’s proposals. They want the tax increase. It might seem like an easier path for city leaders to raise taxes than to make difficult decisions in city government. But it’s their job to make difficult decisions.

Before any government — whether state or local — asks its citizens for more money, it needs to look at its own books, just like we do in our family budgets. The government needs to remember that every dollar it spends is a dollar you and I earned. If any politician supports a tax increase, it needs to be only after they have turned over every stone looking for another way.

I have started a grassroots ad campaign to educate citizens on this proposed sales tax increase. You can see my first ad at IACEaction.com.

Occasionally, there might be a legitimate reason for a tax increase. But when elected officials refuse to look for another way, when they just want to dig deeper into our pockets, we have an obligation to stop them.

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You Can Help Colorado Kids

Bethany Drosendahl
Guest Blogger

Here in Colorado, we have a constitutional educational structure that promotes local control. Unfortunately, we also have a 400-person bureaucracy called Colorado Department of Education (CDE.) Over 6 billion dollars of taxpayer money is flowing through CDE. In theory, CDE has a fiduciary responsibility to students, parents, and taxpayers. However, all too often, the inner workings of CDE have been co-opted by special interest groups who do not share the same responsibilities.

The CDE reports to the State Board of Education which is comprised of a seven member elected board. The head of Colorado’s CDE is called the Commissioner of Education. In July of this year, CDE Commissioner of Education, Robert Hammond, retired. An interim Commissioner, Elliott Asp, was appointed by the State Board in August. Now the State Board and CDE have retained the search firm of Ray and Associates to help find and vet a new Commissioner of Education for Colorado. CDE has set up two avenues to obtain public input.

First, you can provide input through an online survey. If you go to http://www.cde.state.co.us/ there is a link for ‘Complete the Commissioner Search Survey’, which will be open for input until Monday, September 14.  Second, beginning Thursday, September 10, there will be a series of Public Input Meetings. Please see list of dates, times, and locations below. If you cannot attend in person, there is an opportunity to attend by phone.

So what are we looking for in a new Commissioner? Our new Colorado Commissioner of Education must take a strong stand to eliminate the connection between the Colorado Department of Education and special interest groups, as well as begin to eliminate unnecessary and redundant functions in the educational process at the state level.

The Colorado State Board of Education, via the CDE, has a fiduciary responsibility to oversee the implementation of the laws written by the General Assembly, and to provide guidance to the 178 local school districts that represent approximately 800,000 students and their families. In the past, CDE has employed foundation-funded, ideologically and politically driven organizations to advise and implement policies that bypass the local control process and do not show fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers and voters.

One example of this was highlighted in the December 18, 2014, Colorado Joint Budget Committee Hearing. Legislators questioned the ethics and legality of having privately funded, non-profit entities, acting as government employees in our Department of Education. These “employees on loan” come from the Gates Foundation funded Colorado Education Initiative, (or better known as Colorado Legacy Foundation, before changing their name to CEI). There were 5 such CEI employees in our Colorado Department of Education overseeing the implementation of the new Common Core aligned standards and assessments.

We must demand a Colorado Commissioner of Education who is committed to:

  • Minimizing state level bureaucratic control and oversight
  • Restoring local control
  •  Promoting transparency in CDE finances, transactions, contracts, lobbying, and business partnerships
  •  Taking a strong stand to eliminate the connection between the Colorado Department of Education and special interest money and its influence on education policy. An example is CDE’s relationship with the Colorado Education Initiative as noted above

One avenue that the new Commissioner can take to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness would be to call for a complete and thorough audit of our Colorado Department of Education.

Our ability to participate in our own government process is one of the greatest aspects of America, but we only have rights if we exercise them. Please don’t miss this opportunity to be heard. Our kids deserve no less. Our kids deserved to have great education and great future. Teachers should take care of children in their classrooms and use common core sheets to teach start teaching them advanced.

List of Public Meetings and Call-In Participation. RSVP Requested: RSVP to Jennifer Lee,  Temp_Lee_J@cde.state.co.us  or 303-866-6817

  • Grand Junction – Location TBD Thursday, September 10 8:15 – 9:15
  • Glenwood Springs – Roaring Fork SD, RM TBD Thursday, September 10 11:45 – 12:45
  • Denver – 201 E. Colfax Ave., 4th Floor Atrium Thursday, September 10 9:45 – 10:45
  • Denver – 201 E. Colfax Ave., State Board RM 101 Thursday, September 10 6:15 – 8:45
  • Denver – 6000 E. Evans Building #2 Suite 100 Friday, September 11 10:30 – 11:30
  • By Phone ** Thursday, September 10 4:45 – 5:45

**Call-in number provided when attendance is confirmed.

Bethany Drosendahl
Parent Advocate
youropengate@gmail.com

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Is The RNC Afraid Of Carly Fiorina?

Lauracarno.com

August 31, 2015

Here’s how the free market works: If you have a product people like, they buy it. If you have a product people don’t like, they don’t buy it.

In the free market of presidential politics, if people like a candidate, they can send them a donation, attend their rallies, post positive messages about them on social media, and express their preference in a poll.

In the real free market, those candidates who are most appealing to prospective voters would be on the main debate stage at the upcoming September 16th CNN debates. But that isn’t what’s happening. CNN and the Republican National Committee (RNC) are making sure that Carly Fiorina won’t be on the main stage. Why might that be?

By means of disclosure, I haven’t decided yet on a candidate for President. I have a pretty good idea of whom I don’t want, but there is certainly a pool of acceptable candidates I’d consider voting for.

Christopher Rants of the Des Moines Register published a column entitled “Why Are Republicans Letting CNN Pick Our President?” He explains in detail how the process for selecting debate participants was developed. At a high level, CNN and the RNC agreed on the criteria by which presidential candidates would be determined eligible to be on the main stage. The main stage is the prime time debate of the 10 highest polling candidates. Those that don’t make the cut are relegated to the non-prime time debate.

In the August 6th Fox News Channel debate, Carly Fiorina was appropriately placed in the non-prime time debate, based on the most current polls just before that debate. By many accounts, she won the debate, although she wasn’t on the main debate stage. I agree that she won. If you haven’t seen Fiorina speak, take a minute to watch her closing from the Fox News Channel debate.

The criteria for the CNN debate —agreed upon by the RNC— includes 9 polls from before the Fox News Channel debate and only two polls conducted after that. The Fox News Channel debate put Fiorina on the map. In current polls, she is coming in at 7th place, a showing that would easily put her on the main stage.

If Fiorina is bumped up to the main stage that means someone else is bumped down —as it should be. If a candidate is polling worse now as a result of his August 6th debate performance, and that puts him in position #11 or lower, he doesn’t deserve to be on the main debate stage. In a true free market of presidential politics, if people stop supporting a candidate, he has earned his way off the big stage.

Back to the question of why the RNC would have accepted —much less promoted— this methodology of determining the make up of the main stage. You can be assured that the RNC supports someone other than Carly Fiorina for President. Fiorina has been very persuasive and very effective on the campaign trail. That could certainly hurt someone like Jeb Bush, likely the RNC favorite. And in a 2014 article, the RNC admitted that it wanted to keep out candidates whom they didn’t sanction. Is the RNC afraid of Carly Fiorina?

Having Fiorina on the main stage would also hurt front-runner Donald Trump. Voters are hungering for someone who is not a career politician. Like Trump, Fiorina is also an outsider to politics. But she says what needs to be said in a style that is far less abrasive than Donald Trump’s style. Trump’s manner of insulting people, either individually or as a group is beneath the dignity of the office he seeks. A candidate calling a reporter a bimbo, at minimum, is terrible professional manners.

I like candidates who don’t sound like career politicians. As the former proprietor of the Udall Lied campaign, I love that Fiorina speaks the truth plainly and clearly: Hillary Clinton Lied. There is plenty of evidence that Clinton lied, and Fiorina isn’t afraid to say it. She uses words that most people use in their daily lives and they can actually relate to what she says.

Fiorina should be on the main debate stage. The debate will be more interesting and more informative for her being there. Republicans say they believe in people earning their own way. Carly Fiorina has earned her way on to the main debate stage.

What can we do about this?

1. The RNC has the power to say to CNN: Change The Rules. They are each private organizations that set the rules for the debate. They can change them. Call the RNC at 202-863-8500 and let them know you want more recent polls used in determining who is on the main stage at the September 16th If you are active on Twitter, send a tweet to @Reince to let the chairman know your opinion.

2. If you are one of the rare people called for a presidential preference poll, take the time to answer and express your preference for Carly Fiorina, even if she is not your current choice. The debates will be better for her inclusion.

2. If you have a few extra dollars, consider sending her a donation to express your support of her being in the debate.

3. Sign the petition at: https://carlyforamerica.com/cnn-rnc-do-the-right-thing-for-america

4. Share this blog on your own social media accounts and ask your friends to take the above steps.