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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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