Re-Bruce and de-Bill?

How lucky are the members of the School District 51 Board of education? They’ve got new financial advisers who aren’t costing them a dime — the Mesa County commissioners.

And the commissioners, led by Janet Rowland, want the school board to “re-Bruce.” They want the school district to let its voters decide whether to reinstate tax limitations under the state’s TABOR Amendment that were eliminated by the mill-levy freeze enacted by the state Legislature in 2007 and upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court last week.

Because Douglas Bruce was the author of TABOR, when a political entity votes to free itself from some of the TABOR limits, it’s called “de-Brucing.” And the new buzz word for reinstating TABOR limits is “re-Brucing.”

County commissioners are citizens with free-speech rights, of course. Rowland and Commissioners Steve Acquafresca and Craig Meis have every right to express their opinions about what another elected body should do.

But it is up to the members of the District 51 School Board to determine whether to ask their voters to re-Bruce. And, based on the response to the commissioners’ suggestion — as reported in The Daily Sentinel Tuesday — there isn’t much support for the idea among District 51 board members. In fact, several members essentially told the commissioners to stick to their own business.

We hope the commissioners respect that and don’t attempt to use their county positions to pressure the school board into taking action the District 51 folks don’t support.

Any push for the school district to re-Bruce should come from District 51 voters themselves.

We have no doubt that the commissioners believe re-Brucing to overturn the mill-levy freeze, thus reducing property taxes, is in the best interest of area taxpayers.

But we can’t help noting that if a number of school districts around the state did the same thing this November — and there are reportedly discussions about re-Brucing elsewhere — it would prove a political embarrassment for Gov. Bill Ritter and legislative Democrats who supported the mill-levy freeze, just as the 2010 election campaign is beginning.

Acquafresca hinted at that when he said Monday that Democrats in the state Legislature are working against interests of many Coloradans with things like the mill-levy freeze, and that could lead to a shift in which party is in control “sooner than we think.”

For Republicans, this effort could offer a political two-fer: By convincing school boards to try to re-Bruce, Republicans could legitimately claim they sought to cut property taxes. At the same time, it might help “de-Bill” the governor’s mansion by providing ammunition for a GOP candidate who challenges Bill Ritter in 2010.

The District 51 School Board, however, must base its decision on what’s best for its students and its taxpayers, not on statewide political contests.


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