The Bell Policy Center and the Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI) are trying to popularize their view that Colorado needs more tax dollars to pay for schools, roads, child care, housing, and other basic community needs.
Look at it this way, say the progressive budget wonks at the Bell and CFI, Colorado is already in a “hole” budget-wise. Now legislators should “stop digging” by providing funds for key programs and by stopping legislation that will make the fiscal hole deeper.
To make the point, the two organizations have launched a multi-faceted campaign to encourage you to tell your state lawmakers to stop digging the budget hole. Among other things, there’s a petition and this video:
The campaign comes as Republican state lawmakers try to slash taxes in Colorado, by cutting state income rates, while simultaneously spending hundreds of millions on transportation.
Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Colorado Springs) and Tim Neville (R-Littleton) are sponsoring the tax-cut bill, while Sens. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs, John Cooke of Greeley and Rep. Perry Buck of Windsor are proposing to spend money on roads that isn’t available.
Colorado’s unfunded priorities, as listed by the Bell and CFI include: $828 million in reductions to K-12 education funding; $55.6 million needed by 2020 to adequately fund Colorado’s housing trust fund; $3 billion in funding shortages for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program; $31.5 million needed to serve all eligible children through the Colorado Preschool Program; $9 billion in funding shortages for the Colorado Department of Transportation over the next decade.
“With every boom comes a bust, and if Colorado is already stuck in a hole when that happens, getting out becomes even harder,” says Carol Hedges, director of the CFI. “It’s hard to ignore the hole we’re in today was caused in part by the tax cuts in 1999 and 2000. What we learned then still holds true: Reductions in tax dollars mean fewer teachers, correctional officers who are stretched too thin, higher student debt, and less community support for hardworking families.”
Republicans, like Patrick Neville, say the state government will have more money this year, due to economic gains new federal tax guidelines. This money should be spent on roads, they argue, even as their colleagues propose returning it to tax payers in the form of tax cuts.
Neville said back in December.
“Roads are our top priority,” he said in a December statement, “and there is no reason why nearly all of this new revenue should not go to widening highways and expanding primary arteries. I have heard the governor and Democrat leadership say they agree roads are their top priority as well. With all this new revenue for the upcoming budget, it’s time to see if they are willing to walk-the-walk, so that we can relieve our citizens of congestion and truly unleash our economy.”