Colorado Supreme Court Double-Crosses Colorado Voters

Our lawmakers are poised to make liars and knaves out of former school board members all over the state. They’re about to make fools out of state education officials of the past two decades. They’re about to make chumps out of local voters from one corner of Colorado to another.

And Gov. Bill Ritter is likely to endorse their high-handed political maneuver, known as Senate Bill 291.

But do not worry: This double cross, which passed the Senate and a first reading in the House this week, is being conducted in the name of the children, so of course it’s all OK.

Ah yes – it’s for the children.  The subterfuge of scurrilous scoundrels since time immemorial…

However, our lawmakers and scoundrel-in-chief-executive Gov. Bill Ritter would be powerless to perpetrate the passage of this double-cross if not aided and abetted by the unjust justices of the Colorado Supreme Court.  Recall that it was the Mullarkey ruling on the Mill Levy Tax Freeze case that enabled the legislature to seize over $117 million in tax payments (and counting) from Colorado voters – without asking them first, as required by the plain language of the Colorado Constitution.

Bill Ritter, of course, praised the court’s decision: “But the real winners today are Colorado’s children…” despite the fact that “none of the funds are actually earmarked specifically for schools. The extra revenue from the mill levy rate freeze flows directly into the state’s general fund.

The high court, you see, was also determined to help the children – so to heck with the constitution.

 So why is this a double-cross?

First, a little background: When a large majority of school districts in the 1990s asked voters if they could keep all of the tax revenue they were then collecting rather than return surpluses under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, they were careful to assure homeowners that the change would not trigger a long-term escalation in property taxes.

Absolutely not, district officials promised. As the assessed value of property continued to rise, they added, mill levies would tick downward as they had before.

Those officials had every reason to believe they were telling the truth, too, since literally no expert contradicted them. To the contrary. The state repeatedly reinforced the same position. …

Since your voters are NOT voting to change state law, the de-Bruce election outcome . . . will have NO effect on your district’s school finance mill levy.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling – and subsequent actions by the governor and the majority in the state legislature – has retroactively made liars out of honest, honorable public servants.  Many of them have already expressed outrage – it was, after all, the Mesa County board who were the named plaintiffs in the suit challenging this travesty of a law – and many others are quietly seething.  ALL of them have suffered a loss of trust with the voters they represent…

NOW the state legislature – with the assumed complicity of the governor and Colorado Supreme Court – is acting to block any attempt by local officials to salvage their good name, honor, and integrity by going back to the voters to allow them to have a say on their original intent:

SB 291 now closes the circle. It punishes any district that wants to reverse its decision to keep the TABOR surplus should its voters now fear a future of ever-rising property taxes. The bill doesn’t actually prevent voters from reversing course, but it ensures that their children will pay a price if they do.

The bill is written and supported by the same people who for two years have insisted that they changed the law on property taxes only because voters had given the green light. “All we were doing was giving voice and respecting the will of the voters,” the governor claimed earlier this year.

Really?  Ensure that your legislators (the House is hearing the bill this week) and Governor Bill Ritter hear your voice and know your will as a voter in opposing this end-run around your rights.

And in 2010 – DON’T GIVE YOUR APPROVAL to the Colorado Supreme Court majority that made this possible.  Vote “NO” on retaining the four “unjust justices” – Mullarkey, Bender, Martinez, and Rice –  who have conspired to take away your constitutional rights.

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