Printed on 1/9/21

2010 Session

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Labor Day 2010

Today is the traditional "last day of summer," and a time we contemplate the blessings our nation enjoys as a consequence of the diligent labor of its citizens.

What are the public policies that give us good jobs for the citizens of Colorado? Have we been following those best practices in the past few years?

During this election season I have talked with hundreds of people and I am hearing many concerns. If I had to put all of these concerns into one category I would have to say it is jobs. There are not enough good jobs to go around. The only jobs the government seems to be able to create are taxpayer funded government jobs. The lack of meaningful enforcement of immigration laws drives unemployment higher. Excessive government spending is making it more difficult for a recovery that will create good private sector jobs. Higher taxes and stiffer regulations are driving businesses, and jobs, out of the state.

I have included a chart of the change in Colorado jobs since January 2008.

If we had saved for the tough times with a rainy day fund, (something I have been urging since 2003), sustaining government sector jobs during a downturn might make some sense. But as it is, we are borrowing from tomorrow to simply prop up today, and it isn't working. We have been taking money from designated cash funds, borrowing from the Federal Government (despite a constitutional ban on borrowing without voter approval), increasing taxes (again, without the people's vote) and increasing fees at alarming rates.

The government cannot spend us into prosperity. Our government should be doing all it can to encourage the private sector to thrive. This means lower taxes and fees, more consistent and reasonable regulations, immigration policies that work, and strict limits on government spending. Such a bold direction in policy would put Colorado back to work. It would restore the confidence we need to once again enjoy a prosperous, producing economy.

On this Labor Day the policies of our government are making it harder for the average, working citizen.

I am, however, quite hopeful that the people will send to Denver next January a team determined to stop growing an out of control government and start growing a strong economy for all of Colorado's citizens.

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Tax Increases are Bad Policy and Unconstitutional

The Colorado state Senate recently passed nine bills that will increase taxes in Colorado for everything from agricultural pesticides to restaurant take-home boxes and soda pop.

Democrats in the General Assembly are taking a cue from Gov. Bill Ritter to raise taxes by $17 million in the current budget year and $306 million next year in order to close the budget gap that has resulted from lost revenues due to the economic recession.

Democrats claim these bills get rid of so-called tax loopholes and corporate giveaways, but the simple fact is that businesses and families will have to pay more in taxes. These taxes will result in thousands of lost jobs. Far from giveaways and loopholes, these tax policies were intentionally crafted by past legislatures to keep our economy strong. In fact, the energy input exclusion for manufacturing businesses has been in place since 1937.

The tax increases not only represent a terrible piece of public policy in the midst of a recession, but they are a violation of the state constitution. Article X Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution says the state must have voter approval in advance for a tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain. But Democrats in the General Assembly have chosen to hide behind a misguided state supreme court decision that allowed for these tax increases without a vote of the people.

The Colorado supreme court got this one wrong. This is why I offered amendments to the bills seeking to put these higher taxes to a vote of the people. Allowing the citizens of Colorado to have their constitutionally guaranteed chance to weigh in on job-killing tax hikes is the least that we should do. Unfortunately my amendments were all rejected with party-line votes.

In their end-run around the constitution, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have engaged in spurious rhetoric, claiming cuts in K-12 education and corrections would be next on the chopping block if the tax increases don't pass. But these claims betray reality. Republicans offered an alternative to raising taxes-cutting government spending. Senate Bill 168, of which I am a co-sponsor, was put forward in response to Democrat cries that no alternative existed to increased taxes. Our bill would cut state spending by $17 million in the current year and $306 million in the next. These spending cuts represent just one quarter of one percent of the state's nearly $7 billion General Fund and a 4.4 percent reduction in next years.

It is entirely reasonable to ask the government to make the same difficult choices and spending reductions that families and businesses across this state have already been forced to make. The underlying question remains, why should businesses and families see their taxes increase so that government can avoid such cuts, and even increase their own payroll?

We owe it to the voters of Colorado to uphold the state Constitution. We owe it to businesses, families, and individuals across the state to keep their tax burden from increasing at a time when everyone is already stretched to the limit.

Senator Kevin Lundberg


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In 2010 legislature should repeal car tax, prioritize spending

Every year, hundreds of bills are passed by the Colorado General Assembly and not given a second thought. That was not the case with last year's major car tax, dubbed FASTER, which raised taxes by $250 million annually and increased vehicle registration fees by an average of $36 per car.

Coloradans were stunned by the increase, especially the punitive $100 late fee. This fee hits hardest on those who can least afford to pay it. When the car tax first went into affect this summer, people were so upset by the change in policy that some counties hired armed guards to provide security for their Motor Vehicle Department offices. Previously, counties had the option of assessing a $10 fee for late registration.

Despite the crushing recession, the car tax was not the only tax hike passed by Democrats last year. Democrats levied $1 billion in new taxes and fees on Colorado families, including a $90 million property tax increase on seniors, a $30 million tax hike on small businesses, a new half-billion dollar tax on the state's hospitals, and a $40 million tax increase on capital.

Failing to understand that tax hikes are not the best way to stimulate the economy, Democrats have proposed millions more in tax increases for 2010.Republicans, on the other hand, believe that the best approach to economic recovery is to prioritize and reduce government spending.

In 2009, the car tax was pitched to the public as a last resort to fix Colorado's roads and 125 structurally deficient bridges. At the start of 2010, seven months after the care tax went into effect, all 125 bridges remain in disarray. Revenue generated by the car tax has not yet resulted in the repair of a single bridge.

When debating the car tax last year, Democrats ignored the hundreds of millions of transportation dollars that were supposed to be generated by Referendum C, a 2005 ballot measure that was sold as a way to repair crumbling roads and fund higher education.

After voters were misled about Ref. C, the car tax merely added insult to injury. Democrats couldn't even wait for Ref. C to expire before swindling taxpayers out of more money under the guise of another transportation crisis.

Clearly the problem is not funding, it is priorities. Democrats have been on a spending binge since gaining unfettered power in 2006 and have largely ignored Colorado's transportation needs.

As Colorado families have had to tighten their belts, so too should government. It was wrong of the Democrat majority to raise taxes and fees by $1 billion during the midst of the worst recession in decades. That is why my first bill aims to, at least partially, right that wrong by repealing portions of the car tax, starting with the $100 late fee.

I am also proposing an educational tax credit bill, which will give parents more freedom to choose the best school for their children and save the state millions of dollars during a time when its need is greatest. Another cost savings measure I am proposing will reform Medicaid by giving seniors more choices for meeting their medical needs, and potentially save the state millions of dollars.

Tax hikes are not the solution to Colorado's budget crisis. Our deficit can be fixed by coupling the proper reforms with prioritized spending.

Senator Kevin Lundberg


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"2011 Taxpayer Champion"
- Colorado Union of Taxpayers