I believe in liberty, and that liberty requires limited government. Government, left unchecked, grows in scope and size due to its (mostly) well-intentioned public representatives and employees. Some people prefer to add regulations and restrictions (see the cell phone texting ban); others prefer to merely transfer wealth to political contributors (see Governor Bill Ritter’s “green” economy measures or the Federal Government taking over GM). Of course, all government money is transferred wealth that others created, so minimizing this wealth transfer is crucial to maintain individual liberty and property rights.
TABOR, the taxpayer’s bill of rights, kept Colorado’s government from growing out of control in the good times, so the government cuts are not so painful during the lean times. The budget “hole” for this year is only $1 billion. That looks pretty good compared to California’s $50 billion deficit.
However, for some (including Governor Bill Ritter), enough is never enough. The Governor declared a hiring freeze for the state and then proceeded to add over 2,000 new employees to the government payroll. Recently, outgoing Senate President Peter Groff (amongst others) gave bonuses to his staff while state employees are asked to take some furlough days to save money. Ben DeGrow, writing at Mount Virtus, writes of the “Colorado Democrats’ Taxpayer-Funded Arrogance” with regard to a partisan retreat recently held on the taxpayer’s nickel. How are these programs funded? Funding comes from tax increases, of course.
While TABOR does not allow for
increases in tax collection without a vote of the people, politicians invented
rather sneaky ways to circumvent TABOR.
There was the new
tax fee on car registrations. The Colorado Supreme Court declared Governor
Bill Ritter’s illegal property tax freeze as legal. Of course, the court also will get a brand
new state-constructed building (apparently its 30-year-old building in Denver
is too old). This ruling led to all
sorts of new “allocation strategies,” a code word for raising taxes without a
vote. Hence, everyone’s cigarette taxes
increased fifteen cents a pack.
Republican Don Marostica crossed party lines to co-sponsor Senate Bill
228, which removed the six percent annual governmental growth limit. While the six percent limit may seem low, it
merely meant that the government would take only twelve years to double in
size. With that obstacle removed, the
government is nearly unlimited in its growth potential.
What could the Republicans do to stop this madness? They could do little this year. Kent Lambert’s statement in January that we need to “thin the ranks” of weak Republicans is wrong on multiple levels. Yes, the ranks of the Republicans are thinner, and the Democrats control every branch of government. What does a party gain when its membership is ideologically “pure”, yet it is unable to influence public policy?
When asked at a luncheon about what the party should do to Don Marostica due to his sponsorship of Senate Bill 228, State Senator Shawn Mitchell responded, “I think public excommunications do more harm than good.” Luckily, Kent Lambert did not “thin the ranks”, and Shawn Mitchell’s side won out. While the Democrats plot to further neuter TABOR, Marostica wants to revisit the true problems in the state: the automatic funding increase in spending due to Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment.
Slowing the growth of government is hard work, and it will require (at a minimum) divided government. Big-tent Republicanism is the only way to achieve a majority in either one of the legislative chambers. Therefore, the best way for me to support Tom “A Watcher” McDowell’s campaign for State Senate is to keep this blog alive to promote our shared values in a big-tent Republican Party focused on limited government and fiscal responsibility.
by Civil Sense