Movie Ticket Tax (er, “fee”) coming soon to a theater near you?

Apparently, some folks still haven’t gotten the memo…

As reported in the Denver Post (“Bill proposes 10-cent fee on movie tickets“) online Friday afternoon,

Two Republican lawmakers introduced a bill today that would impose a 10-cent fee on every movie ticket sold in the state, beginning July 1, to help fund an incentive program for promoting film production in Colorado.

The mania to circumvent the Colorado Constitution and avoid seeking voter approval of tax increases by calling them “fees” is apparently not an affliction restricted to the Democrat party alone.  Leaving aside the policy implications of picking industry favorites for government support and subsidies (“corporate welfare”) at taxpayer expense, the proposed new “fee” is clearly a tax – since those paying derive no benefit (receiving neither good nor service) from the payment – and therefore subject to prior approval by a vote of the people (Colorado Constitution, Article X, Section 20 – the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights).

(For an in-depth discussion of the difference between fees and taxes, see When is a “fee” not a tax?)

It is not uncommon for lawmakers to propose measures involving fee increases in lieu of tax hikes, which require voter approval under provisions of TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Legislators of both parties swear an oath to ‘support and uphold’ the Constitution – which includes that pesky Article X, Section 20.  Like the executive and (especially) judicial branches, they don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution to support or ignore without violating their oath of office.  Republicans should be especially sensitive of this oath – and of the constitutional requirements and restrictions imposed by TABOR – because they made constitutionality (or lack thereof) the centerpiece of their (principled) opposition to last year’s “Dirty Dozen” tax increases (many of which they are now attempting to repeal).

To avoid the taint of hypocrisy, Republican party and legislative leaders should call on the bill’s sponsors to withdraw the proposed legislation.  Otherwise, the GOP may find itself on shaky moral ground when (justifiably) calling for the repeal of last year’s “Dirty Dozen” tax increases – and set itself up for near-permanent minority status as the energized grassroots electorate turns away in disgust at the party’s perceived lack of principle.

“Supporting party above principle does a disservice to both”–El Presidente (Slapstick Politics blog)

The fight to reform Colorado’s corrupt legal/judicial complex continues.  Clear The Bench Colorado is working to hold the consortium of legal-establishment special-interest groups who attempted (and may have succeeded in) buying the election for their buddies on the bench accountable for violations of Colorado campaign finance law.  Longer term, Clear The Bench Colorado will work with legislators and others interested in reforming the systemic shortcomings of Colorado’s “merit selection & retention” system to increase transparency and accountability to the public.  For both endeavors, we would appreciate your continued support – via your comments (Sound Off!) and, yes, your contributions.  Freedom isn’t free –nor is it always easy to be a Citizen, not a subject.

Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.

One Response to Movie Ticket Tax (er, “fee”) coming soon to a theater near you?

  • Calvin Dodge says:

    I’ve emailed both of these miscreants, and told them I’ll gladly support their primary opponents in 2012.

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