Jan 192010

Maybe it’s Colorado’s large military population or multitude of religious-conservative groups. Maybe it’s the high-tech business crowd the state seems to attract, or the lasting legacy of Colorado’s rugged, individualist childhood.

One way or the other, if the Centennial State’s voting history over the last few decades tells us anything, it’s this: Coloradans don’t much care for taxes.

In fact, they like taxes so little that over the past few decades, Colorado voters and lawmakers have placed strict and systematic constitutional limits on the state’s ability to take in money while mandating that certain budget elements grow annually.

And all of that may have been good for Colorado’s economy and taxpayers during the boom years, but those days are gone, at least for the time being.

What the state is left with, according to CSU President Tony Frank, is a pie that can’t get any bigger with pieces that must. Higher education is one of the few pieces that doesn’t have to grow, and needless to say, as the pie shrinks, so does higher education, which is the largest portion of the budget that is not mandated to grow.

But as the end of higher education’s seemingly expendable budget line looms, so does the specter of massive budget cuts in areas like health services, transportation and the justice system.

It’s clear that Colorado voters feel higher education isn’t worth their tax money, but are hospitals? Highways? Prisons?

If Colorado’s voters aren’t careful, these challenges could mean disaster for the state. Low taxes are great, but it’s time for voters to rethink Colorado tax policy or risk creating a bleaker future for their children.

 Posted by at 5:30 pm

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