Columnists, Gold Dome, Governor Polis, Jon Caldara, Politics, TABOR, Taxes, Uncategorized

Caldara: Tax-hiking Republicans may give Polis his special session TABOR deal

The last legislative session gave something to Colorado Republicans that they could never have given to themselves — some sense of definition.

Republicans in this state have had an identity crisis. Just what makes them different from Democrats in the eyes of voters, especially unaffiliated voters, now the largest voting block here? Traditionally, not much.

Legislative Republicans have been the reason Democrats could pass their agendas, from destroying the coal industry via mandated fuel switching to raising taxes without a public vote by calling them “fees.”

Colorado State Capitol

But our current political lurch to the left has finally made clear that no matter how dysfunctional team Republican is (and man, is it), it is a clear and sensible counter to the whacky progressivism that is enveloping state government.

Colorado just joined the national popular vote interstate compact. But not a single Republican voted for it — a clear difference between the parties. Gov. Jared Polis and his Democrats own the losing issue, like an albatross around their collective neck.

Angry citizens are gathering signatures and will get a repeal of the national popular vote on the ballot. And if current polling holds, voters will reverse the Democrat-only policy. A massive advertisement for Republican sanity.

The people of Colorado voted overwhelmingly against Proposition 112, the fracking ban. Yet the progressive legislature passed Senate Bill 181, which will, over time, hobble the oil and gas industry in Colorado. Not a single Republican voted for it. Again, a clear-cut difference between Republicans and Democrats.

The new sex ed law which teaches kids how to have healthy transsexual relationships, not the birds and the bees. A gun confiscation law without due process. Legally changing one’s gender on his birth certificate like changing your address with the post office. Tax credits to buy Telsa’s.

These nutty laws and many more happened without any noticeable Republican support. That’s called party discipline. Something that doesn’t come naturally to the Republican Party.

The hubris of the Polis party is a gift to a Republican Party that desperately needed a public identity, one that voters can understand. This new party identity will help Republicans, including Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, in future elections.

That is of course if Republicans don’t screw it up like some are trying to do right now.

This fall, voters will be reminded of the difference between R’s and D’s when they vote on Proposition CC, which guts our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and takes away our excess tax refunds, around half a billion dollars for this year alone, forever. And forever is a long, long time.

Sans one lone Republican vote, Prop CC is a completely Democrat-owned, Democrat-engineered destruction of TABOR. And when it comes crashing down in November, as one poll indicates it could, it will be a major embarrassment to Polis and his leftist comrades. They will be forced to own it.

Polis knows this. He doesn’t want it around his neck. He wants to share the humiliation.

Which is why, in the worst kept political secret in Denver, he is scheming to call a special session to refurbish Prop CC into something sellable. The political slang is “polishing a turd.”

He desperately needs the veneer of bipartisanship, fortunately for him, he seems to have found his tax-hiking pigeons.

Republican Senators Owen Hill of El Paso County and Jack Tate of Centennial have drafted up several special-session bills to disguise Polis’s tax increase as a tax cut.

Hill’s plan, according to an editorial written by the Colorado Springs Gazette, would lower the state’s flat income tax rate by a scant 0.04% and set a limit on how long the state can keep TABOR refunds, so it’d be shorter than forever. What Republican could vote against lowering our tax and a shorter TABOR timeout? Well, hopefully, anyone who could do simple math.

I used to play this little game with my daughter to teach her about money. If she’d had one quarter, I would offer her three nickels for it. After all, I’d tell her, three is more than one! Such a deal! She quickly learned how to count money.

Hill and Polis assume we haven’t learned to count. In exchange for their tiny tax cut, they want to take all our TABOR refunds, about 8 times more than their piddly tax cut would give back.

Any Republican who signs on to this deception should realize the cost of their betrayal is not just a massive tax increase, but the destruction of a fragile but growing Republican party identity that could grow to end one-party rule in Colorado.

I mean, if that’s important or anything.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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