Left & right agree for once: Colorado taxed enough already

It’s something new and notable in Colorado politics: An unapologetic liberal and an unwavering conservative agreeing in spite of themselves that tax increases for metro-Denver municipalities and school districts on the November ballot are an overreach.

In the September round of Head On mini-debates for Colorado Public Television, sponsored by Centennial Institute, Susan Barnes-Gelt, a Democrat and former Denver city councilwoman, takes the lead in calling for a “no” vote on these measures and John Andrews, a Republican and former Senate President, seconds her motion. Here is the script:

DENVER and CENTENNIAL SEEK TO DE-BRUCE

Susan: Denverites should vote NO on 2A. The measure promises to repave streets, add police training classes, expand library and recreation center hours and eliminate furlough days for city employees. Truth is, it’s a substantial tax hike with no guarantees – just unenforceable promises.

John: Government always wants more. It never has enough. Politicians always believe they can spend our money better than we can. I too would oppose Denver’s tax hike, if I were an urban guy. I am opposing Centennial’s tax hike as a suburban guy. Our little city wasn’t created to be a revenue hog.

Susan: Denver voters have a choice. Approve a blank check that never expires for higher taxes, or send Mayor Hancock back to the drawing board to craft a balanced initiative with a mix of reduced expenses and tax increases. 2A is bad for jobs, small business and homeowners. Vote NO.

John: The first word in Tea Party stands for “taxed enough already,” and I’m delighted to hear you of all people urging Denverites to vote that way on school construction and the Hancock proposal. If Coloradans look at the huge tax increase Obama plans for Jan. 1, they will vote him out too.

PUBLIC SCHOOL TAX INCREASES

Susan: Several school districts are on November’s ballot with tax increases for K-12 education, including Denver. DPS wants more than a half a billion for new schools, renovation and updating of existing schools and increased operating funds. It’s a tough time to ask for the biggest tax increase in history.

John: I’m voting no on Cherry Creek school taxes. And I agree with your no vote in Denver. Taxpayers in Jeffco, Aurora, and all 29 Colorado districts where a total of $1 billion is being requested should join us. The answer for better education is more choice, not more money.

Susan: Regarding DPS, I’m undecided. Should Denver build new schools when existing ones are way under capacity. Should the District go to a 12-month school year to support student achievement? Yes – I support 3B – increased operating funds. I’d like to see more reform before we build more schools.

John: A lot more reform. Something is happening when I as a conservative Republican and you as a liberal Democrat begin agreeing that taxpayers forever digging deeper while teacher unions keep making excuses is no longer a viable strategy for helping kids learn. For devastating proof, see the new movie “Won’t Back Down.”

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