Any day that you can write the word ‘poop’ is a good day.
Republicans in the state legislature have gleefully called Gov. Bill Ritter’s plan to freeze property tax rates in order to fund public education a “tax hike,” but the editorial board of The Denver Post thinks their own plan is worthless:
Forty Republican legislators who signed a letter denouncing Gov. Bill Ritter’s proposed “freeze” in property taxes may have actually done the Democratic chief executive a favor.
By turning what should be a fair-minded discussion of how to pay for public schools into a test of partisan zealotry, the Republicans reminded everyone that voters last fall entrusted majority Democrats with the responsibility to solve Colorado’s basic problems.
In our opinion, it’s time for the Democrats to do just that. Approving the “freeze” – which could reach the House floor Monday – would be a good start.
Actually, Democrats didn’t originate the freeze plan; Republicans did. A property tax freeze passed the GOP-controlled Senate in 2004 at the behest of Sens. Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, and John Andrews, R-Centennial.
Andrews and Anderson didn’t want to raise property taxes – and their freeze wouldn’t have done that, any more than Ritter’s would. But the Republican lawmakers did want to honor the wishes of voters in 175 of the state’s 178 school districts who had voted to allow their schools to keep the revenue generated by their existing property taxes rather than cutting those mill levies. Such votes to freeze tax rates are allowed by the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. But a 1994 school finance law effectively overturned those elections and forced schools to repeatedly cut property taxes even when when local citizens voted against such cuts. (No, we’re not making this up.)
That goofy law also forced the state to fund an ever larger share of the K-12 budget, $2.9 billion this year or 64 percent of the total. That’s almost $400 million more than the 50 percent share envisioned by the authors of the 1994 finance act. That growing burden on the state is the biggest reason Colorado has been unable to adequately fund other needs.
The Ritter plan, carried in the House by Rep. Jack Pommer, D-Boulder, would honor local voters’ decisions by letting school districts keep an extra $55 million next year. The only alternative proposed by critics – selling the Colorado Lottery to private interests and putting the proceeds into a trust fund – would raise only an estimated $9 million in new money for K-12 education next year.
Selling off the lottery may be worth exploring, but it’s no way to pay for schools.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will appear on Capitol Hill today in a hearing that was postponed from Tuesday because of the Virginia Tech shootings. As The Washington Post reports:
When Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s top aide contemplated the mass dismissal of chief federal prosecutors two years ago, he advocated keeping the “loyal Bushies.” Two years later, the question confronting President Bush is whether to keep Gonzales, the very model of a loyal Bushie.
As Gonzales heads to Capitol Hill today for a long-anticipated public interrogation about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, at issue is the very concept of loyalty in Bush’s world. With any other president, many in Washington say, the attorney general would already be gone. Bush has defied the drumbeat from both parties to remove Gonzales, but even the White House considers today’s Senate hearing make or break.
Few moments in Bush’s presidency have tested the limits of loyalty more acutely than this one. For six years, the president has largely stood by those who have stood by him and has rarely given in to pressure to toss allies aside when they have come under fire. When he has, he has often resisted so long that the damage had already been done — pulling the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet E. Miers only after weeks of all-out conservative revolt and firing then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld only after a decisive midterm election defeat.
Bush has been more willing to part ways with those he has viewed as less than fully devoted to him and his agenda, most prominently then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Critics believe this fixation on loyalty has left the president isolated from dissent and surrounded by ideological yes men, but it has also given him a team that has remained unusually cohesive through adversity, at least until recently, as more former insiders have spoken out critically.
Do you hear that sound? It’s the bus warming up. Gonzales is about to find himself underneath it.
Focus on the Family czar James “SpongeDob” Dobson is encouraging his flock to oppose four bills in the state legislature. As The Associated Press reports:
Saying that traditional morality is under attack in Colorado, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson urged his radio listeners on Wednesday to call Gov. Bill Ritter to oppose four bills, including one that would allow gay couples to adopt children together.
“Do you understand how the liberals have declared war on traditional morality and traditional family values in this state?” said Dobson.
In a broadcast on Colorado stations, he criticized bills that are either close to being sent to Ritter or already on his desk, including Senate Bill 25, which would bar businesses from hiring and firing based on a person’s sexual orientation or religion.
The other bills would ban abstinence-only sex education classes, House Bill 1292, and change the definition of family in the law governing state housing loans, Senate Bill 124. The Colorado Catholic Conference has also been urging a veto of the adoption bill, which was opposed by a group representing adoption agencies.
Good Gravy! I had no idea that the liberal hippies were trying to make housing loans gay.