Colorado’s State Legislature is working on its yearly budget, which includes HB 1242, a bipartisan compromise that would ask voters to approve a small tax increase to provide up to 3.2 billion to address the state’s crumbling infrastructure. The hard-right wing of the Republican party in Colorado hates the deal because of their dogmatic adherence to a “no new taxes” position.
Enter State Representative Tim Leonard (R-Evergreen), who we have written about previously. He put up a Facebook video on his page that includes this passage:
We were elected to solve the problems, not pass the buck back to the voters to be able to decide on a tax increase…
This caught my attention because it’s one of the central arguments that anti-TABOR petitioners have used to challenge the constitutionality of the amendment. Here’s a quote from the Kerr v. Hickenlooper lawsuit:
(TABOR) is unconstitutional because it deprives the state and its citizens of effective representative democracy, contrary to a Republican Form of Government as required under both the United States and Colorado Constitutions.
I’m not certain that Leonard consciously made this argument. It’s more likely that he is so dogmatically anti-tax that he was just throwing arguments against the wall to see what sticks. Note the dripping disdain for “voters” that his words carry. The fundamental premise of TABOR is that it gives power to voters to approve or reject tax increases that would normally be among the duties of the legislature. It has hamstrung our budget process since its passage, to the point where workarounds and semantic games have become necessary to do the state’s business.
Whatever it was that motivated Leonard to argue against TABOR, I’ll take it. It’s not often that a proponent of TABOR accidentally stumbles on the perfect argument against it. I can’t say I’m surprised that Leonard was the one to do it.