More money is not the answer for repairing public education

It’s almost time for the left’s favorite holiday: Halloween!

No messy patriotism or unconstitutional religious overtones, just pretending to be something that you’re not.

This brings us to the latest attempted override of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights Amendment, Proposition 103.  This will appear on the November ballot and, as many of you know, it would raise the state income and sales taxes for five years.

Once again, the purpose is supposedly to fix the schools. One would hope it would, because it is projected to raise about $536 million each year. Actually, it would be more accurate to say it will remove from taxpayers about $536 million per year, which comes to about $3 billion over the life of the override.

I always like the way the term “will raise” is used in these situations, as though it were a raffle or some sort of charity event.

The leading proponent of this is state Sen. Rollie Heath, who is applying that down-to-earth fiscal sanity he learned in his hometown of Boulder to the problem. He has been hot-footing it around the state to friendly civic groups with some statistics that some find a little fuzzy.

Our friends at Coloradopeakpolitics.com disagree with figures that show the general fund, which is a substantial portion of what is used for the state’s budget, is the same now as it was 10 years ago despite an increase in population.  They point to figures from the Joint Budget Committee, which the Independence Institute published, that indicate the general fund has actually grown over that time. Figures from the Colorado Legislative Council align more with Heath’s claim. Statistics on all sides are often made elastic by interpretation.

The upshot of all this remains the same: The government needs more money because, as we have seen, that is the answer to everything.

New approaches, serious re-evaluations of Jurassic approaches to funds allocation or admission of a systemic failure in the delivery of educational product pale to insignificance compared to the magic of a tax dollar.

Voters are wiser now and resist simplistic solutions.

The Independence Institute notes that total state revenues received and spent between 1994 and 2010 have increased 187 percent.

Similar to our federal government, the problem is not revenue but spending and, more pointedly, where revenues are spent.

For instance, the Governor’s Energy Office could use a red line drawn through its appropriation and the money could be used for textbooks, preferably primers on non-Keynesian economics, with a few copies thrown in for the Legislature.

This whole push, however, goes far beyond gulling wishful groups into thinking that firing taxpayer money into the air like a confetti cannon will somehow make students better educated. It’s another brick in the wall that a handful of groups in the state are trying to build — groups that ultimately would like two things:

First, they seek the elimination of TABOR and placing it and its supporters in a deep dark hole where sunlight will have to be piped into on a very sporadic basis.

Secondly, they want the re-establishment of a progressive state income tax to further create a permanent state underclass that can be manipulated through tax rates and benefits paid by producers and employers.

Colorado ended its progressive income tax structure in favor of a flat tax in 1987 but, as late as March of this year, a left-wing group was trying to get it re-instituted. The ballot initiative was subsequently pulled from this year’s consideration, which, I suspect, might have something to do with not competing with Proposition 103.

Various groups have supported the return of a progressive income tax, with former Democratic Sen. Chris Romer calling for it in 2010.

The surprise in all of this is that anyone is surprised. Big government has a big appetite and imagines itself differently than citizens outside of it.

I leave you with a quote that Colorado Peak Politics has from Senate Majority Leader John Morse, “… we heard public testimony that whether it’s Keynesian or monetary, or whatever, taking tax dollars out of the private economy slows the private economy. OK. What about the government economy?”

Further comment would gild the lilly.

Rick Wagner offers more thoughts on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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