Thursday, July 22, 2010

McInnis Ad Falsely Attacks Hickenlooper for Raising Taxes

McInnis Ad Claim 1: If you eat, drink, drive, live in it or surf it, they've taxed it." ("They" refers to Governor Ritter and Mayor Hickenlooper)

Facts: As Mayor of Denver, Hickenlooper had no role in the development of this year's state budget.
Hickenlooper will place a high priority on sun-setting the tax exemption changes as soon as economically feasible. Hickenlooper appreciates the difficult circumstances the Joint Budget Committee and the governor faced making painful cuts to core government services, like K-12 education, that Coloradans depend upon daily. These tax exemption changes put a ten percent dent into a $700 million budget gap for FY 2011 - according to the National Conference of State Legislatures - shoring up important government services like education and transportation infrastructure. Meanwhile:

* In 2009, Colorado's tax burden was the second lowest in the nation, according to the Federal Tax Administrators.
* Colorado is not alone in having to enact temporary tax changes. According to information collected by the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado joined the majority of states forced to enact similar budget solutions to overcome an aggregated $89 billion budget gap for FY 2011.

Hickenlooper's success in business guided his decision when he turned Denver's financial system around, and we believe Colorado needs his real-world experience to get the state back on track.

* In Hickenlooper's first inaugural address, he declared: "Denver is open for business!" And, in his most recent State of the City address, Hickenlooper announced that "in the midst of a global recession, three major companies—DaVita, SMA Solar and R.E. Power—announced major expansions in metro Denver. That's in addition to the three dozen other companies that have moved their headquarter locations to metro Denver since 2004."
* Additionally, since Hickenlooper became mayor of Denver, he cut approximately $350 million out of the city's annual budgets (or 5.5 percent a year).
* Hickenlooper has also decreased the size of Denver's city government workforce by 7 percent since 2002.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights prohibits anyone from raising taxes without a vote of the people. (Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Colo. Const. art. X, sec. 20.) The General Assembly did enact technical changes to the tax code (i.e., temporary suspension of tax exemptions) as part of its effort to close the FY 2011 budget gap. These types of technical changes are common in most states during tight budget times, and they have been utilized by both Democratic and Republican led legislatures in the past. For example:

* During financial fallout from the recession that started in 2001, the Republican-led General Assembly raised fees by $74 million to deal with an almost $1 billion budget shortfall. According to The Pueblo Chieftain, the General Assembly "raised fees by $74 million for everything from restaurant inspections and well permits to license plate registrations…." ("Colorado Legislature Hikes State Fees by $74 million," The Pueblo Chieftain, July 7, 2003.)
* The Republican-led General Assembly also suspended a scheduled property tax exemption for seniors for three years. At the time, estimates suggested the suspension would cost seniors $56 million a year until the exemption was reinstated. ("Colorado Legislature Hikes State Fees by $74 million," The Pueblo Chieftain, July 7, 2003.)