Colorado Legislators to Voters: It’s not a tax, it’s a fee!”

Governments across North America are finding that their meal tickets are less and less willing to pay for bloated and wasteful governments.

Here in Canada, the Jack Layton and his New Democratic Party can’t comprehend why we mere peasants are tired of footing the tab for every expensive and stupid idea politicians come up with.

He defends his trough feeding while the Canadian public is sickened by the $1.1 million tab we taxpayers are forced to pony up every year just to pay for his and his wife’s expense accounts!

According to Jack Layton, it’s his Divine Right to feed at the trough we’re all forced to pay for.  He couldn’t be more wrong.

South of the border they’ve got their own trough-feeding swine to cope with.  Colorado, for example, passed a law in 1992 (the Taxpayer Bill Of Rights or TABOR amendment to the Colorado State Constitution) that says any tax increase MUST be approved by the voters.

Naturally, Colorado lawmakers bridle at the thought that mere voters would dare rein them in like this.

The solution for politicians is always more spending, isn’t it?  It’s never balancing the books, like your family and mine must do or be forced into bankruptcy.  No, the solution is always to spend more money.  Money that doesn’t belong to them.

Spending someone else’s money comes with some definite perks.  Even I can admit that. There’s a wonderful feeling that comes with spending someone else’s hard-earned cash… it’s called Lack of Accountability.

The Colorado State Government decided it wanted to spend a ton of money, 300 million dollars in fact, to do some bridge repairs and other road maintenance.

And that’s where the problem, at least in their eyes, occurred.

You see, they weren’t willing to revise their budgets and figure out what to cut in order to free up the money for the bridge repairs they wanted to do.  No, that would require them to live within their means.  They’re politicians, they don’t do that.

Their solution was to do an end-run around their bosses, the voters of Colorado.

They created a new “enterprise” and set it up to be run by the Colorado State Department of Transportation and gave that new enterprise the responsibility to repair and maintain the state’s bridges.

The benefit of this approach, from the trough-feeding swine’s point of view anyway, is that this effectively freed them from the requirement of asking the voters to approve their new borrowing of 300 million dollars.

They then passed the the entire cost to taxpayers, but they don’t call it a tax.  They call it a fee.  So now every Colorado state vehicle owner is charged an additional “fee” of $18 per year on average.

Naturally this only applies to vehicles registered in the State of Colorado.  Out of state vehicles get to drive on the bridges for free.

Why?  Because this new Colorado “Bridge Enterprise” now deems every Colorado vehicle owner to be a “customer” of the Bridge Enterprise.

Trust politicians to come up with that logic.

It’s like calling me a “client” of the Canadian Firearms Program because I legally own firearms in Canada.  Gang members and drug dealers, of course, are exempt from being “clients” because they are criminals.  The Firearms Act does not apply to them.

Like me, Colorado state vehicle owners are forced to become “customers” or “clients” of an enterprise they neither want nor need, all because the law says they must.

If they don’t pay the fee, they are refused registration of their vehicle.  Here in Canada I’d be sent to jail for the “crime” of possessing a firearm without government permission.

That’s not a “client” or “customer“, that’s being held at the barrel of a legal gun, with the guy holding the gun saying, “Thank you sir, please come back soon!

In order to pull off this little charade Colorado lawmakers had to abuse a line in the State Constitution’s 1992 Taxpayer Bill Of Rights (TABOR) amendment.

To quote Richard Sokol:

“The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights’, passed by voters in 1992 and thus enshrined in the state constitution mandates that the state ‘must have voter approval in advance for ‘creation of any debt.’  It does not prohibit the state or a district government from borrowing money; it only stipulates that citizens be asked first.”

Hardly an onerous requirement.  Unless you’re a politician, that is.  Asking for what they believe is their Divine Right just rubs them the wrong way.

Sokol goes on to say,

“The Bridge Enterprise and CDOT (Colorado Department of Transportation) do the same work overseen by the same managers.”

In fact both entities have the same board members and the same person is both Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for both of them.

There’s nothing quite like building two bureaucracies to do a single job.

It’s like the Province of Quebec building its own firearm owner licensing and gun registration bureaucracy to duplicate the federal government’s firearm owner licensing and gun registration bureaucracy.

Only in government is this seen to make any sense.  This kind of stupidity simply isn’t tolerated in private enterprise, so why do we tolerate it from our governments?

I wish I knew…

The purpose of the “enterprise” portion of TABOR was to allow community centers, for example, to raise the cost of towel fees without asking the voters for permission.

Raising a towel fee by 50 cents without resorting to the ballot box is reasonable and makes sense.  Abusing that section of TABOR to justify a 300 million dollar loan for bridge repairs is a far cry from reasonable.

But when throughout history have politicians ever, of their own accord, decided to spend LESS of our money?

I can’t think of a single one.

1 thought on “Colorado Legislators to Voters: It’s not a tax, it’s a fee!”

  1. “In fact both entities have the same board members and the same person is both Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer for both of them.”

    And, if like similar situations in the Yukon, I’ll bet the double-dealing Colorado bureaucrat signs his own paycheques.

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