The spring’s tea party chants are being updated to oppose the state’s new car fees. The expression is important for the emotion and general impressionistic anti-government feelings it conveys. It doesn’t have to make any sense. “Governor Ritter hates my car!” “We won’t pay taxes or fees!” “Down with the nanny state!” “Especially if the state doesn’t employ someone to remind us in advance when our registration is due so we can avoid the nanny state fees!”
Just weeks ago, state legislators were forced to perform record feats of legislative acrobatics to balance the strapped budget. The schools faced hundreds of millions of dollar shortfalls. Government cutbacks and furloughs and layoffs have gone into effect. Without federal stimulus money, transportation spending would be at unsustainable low levels, higher education research, teaching and hiring would be set back decades and the levels of basic human services provided by the state, like medical care and job training and public safety, would plummet further than they already have done.
This is the environment in which Gov. Ritter supported the FASTER legislation, which included hiked registration fees for people who drive large cars, which guzzle gas and tear up roads, and for people who don’t register their cars on time. These aren’t taxes. They are fees, the most onerous of them, the $25 to $100 late fees, easily avoided. Car owners simply must pay for their annual registration on time. There is a one month grace period.
Yet the hikes have rallied state Republicans lawmakers like Colorado Springs Republican Kent Lambert. He’s tweeting all about it. He calls the hikes “Ritter’s illegal car tax” and is encouraging people to come out and protest.
“Governor Ritter hates your car!”
In his weekly newsletter, House Minority Leader Mike May urged citizens to pressure Ritter to revise the law in reaction to “the public backlash” and provided phone and email contacts for the governor.
It’s not just more opposition from the Party of No. It’s leadership based on the idea that people should pay nothing to drive their cars on the state roads, which will be paid for with neither tax money nor fees. Because polluting cars cost nothing in health care and environmental degradation. Because private industry provides roads much cheaper. Because tuition at private schools is so low. And because private sector security firms are so law abiding and reliable.