Colorado Governor Jared Polis recently attempted to distract public attention from growing issues such as rising crime rates and persistently high unemployment by suggesting the total elimination of the tax. on state income. Too many otherwise intelligent people are prematurely applauding this proposal, including some Republicans.
Any serious evaluation of the plan must include careful consideration of the other half of Polis’ proposal, the necessary income tax replacements. After all, Polis did not suggest reducing the state government workforce by the more than 66% of General Fund revenues that are provided by personal and corporate income tax revenues.
Republicans ‘policy plea for lower income tax rates naturally colors their judgment of Polis’ proposal. But in the current political environment where Socialists set the legislative agenda for Democratic majorities in the General Assembly, Republicans should recognize that pursuing Polis’ proposal would likely result in a net increase in the total tax burden for most Coloradans. , especially the middle class and small businesses. .
What is Polis’ planned replacement for the more than $ 10 billion lost each year if state income tax is abolished? Yes, new taxes and fees. But don’t worry: the new taxes would only be applied “on the things and activities we want to discourage”. Wow. Now we can all sleep better. But who are the “we” who will pass judgment on the things and activities “that we want to discourage”? It would be, well, the state legislators, the governor and, of course, the bureaucrats spending the money.
In fact, Polis’ proposal is more cynical than sinister. If enough Republicans supported the “tax replacement plan” to qualify it as “bipartisan,” then Republican leaders would feel pressured to support the myriad of new “social equity” tax and user fee regimes. “necessary to avoid downsizing the state government.” programs.
Let’s be realistic. Republicans and anyone who cares about limited government and lower taxes should recognize the socialist character – and, yes, the totalitarian implications – of Polis’ second elastic “principle”. Is there an elected official from Colorado, red, blue, green or purple, who thinks Jared Polis and his socialist allies in the legislature have in mind the enactment of a new fiscal plan for a smaller government? Is it possible that they calculated that while income tax rates are very difficult to increase under TABOR, other types of taxes and fees are more easily created, manipulated and increased?
Is it possible that Republican leaders did not learn anything from SB260, the Democrats’ successful “transformative” transport bill in the 2021 session? Many of Colorado’s top business leaders and business groups have been lured into helping push through a slew of new “user fees” to get a 10-year transportation plan enacted, which ironically , offers less General Fund investment in roads and bridges over the next decade than was committed in the highway bond financing mechanism enacted in 2018. Republican opposition to SB260 was weak .
Polis envisions an increasingly “progressive” state government with an expanding revenue stream that is not so encumbered by TABOR’s tax restrictions. If Polis’ tax plans were passed, in place of an already low flat income tax, Colorado residents would be invited to support, applaud and adjust their lives, hopes and dreams to a wide range of taxes and new but less visible user fees. New taxes and charges will be imposed on many social and economic “activities” deemed less desirable by the providers of “social justice” and the proud architects of “social equity financing”.
Dare we ask what are these activities that progressives in Colorado want to “discourage” with new taxes and increased user fees? Well, let’s count the pitfalls, starting with tackling global climate change, promoting “social equity” in a myriad of social institutions, tackling “systemic racism” and protecting the ever-reaching reach. growing “public health”. Then the “things to discourage and penalize” will likely include – “excessive” automobile mileage, having babies, natural gas hook-ups for commercial businesses and appliances, zoning for single-family home construction, fracking. hydraulics, national borders, prison sentences for “minor offenses”, and freedom of speech which supposedly undermines public confidence in the elections.
Abolish Colorado Flat Income Tax? It is a beautiful Christmas tree ornament. But gifts under the tree will carry very high “deferred payment” labels.
Some very cute little devils are to be killed in the cradle. He’s probably one of them.
Charles L. Heatherly is the former Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for the Colorado Senate Republican Caucus and former Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Heritage Foundation. He is the co-editor of “Unmasked 2020: Colorado’s Radical Left Turn and a Warning to America.”