RTA means 'raise taxes again'

Filed under: Opinion |

A recent Chamber of Commerce essay praised issue 1A, the RTA scheme. As voters will learn, RTA means “Raise Taxes Again.”

1A is the largest tax increase in county history, costing over $1 billion in the first 10 years alone, and continuing forever. This conservative computation may be verified at www.RaiseTaxesAgain.com.

1A imposes another layer of unaccountable government forever. Citizens won’t elect and so cannot ever recall RTA directors. Our Founding Fathers warned, “Taxation without representation is tyranny.” RTA betrays that heritage of limited government, for which we fought our Revolution.

If we discover waste, fraud or scandals, taxpayers will still be helpless. Forever means forever.

RTA can use our taxes to build toll roads, then charge drivers again to use those same roads. RTA can lien your property without your consent using special improvement districts, and annex property without owner consent or even elections to raise taxes.

Proponents of 1A want to conceal its true cost that they falsely wrote it would cost $60 million the first year. The ballot title says $70 million. What’s $10 million yearly to big spenders? Apparently, not worth mentioning.

First-year costs for the average family of four are $400. Here’s how – $70 million divided by 560,000 citizens is $125 per RTA area resident. Babies don’t pay taxes, so it’s $500 for four people. Subtract 20 percent for tourism and exports. Can your family afford another $400 in yearly taxes in this slow economy? Can the economy afford it?

1A allows unlimited COPs (long-term debt used in the jail-courthouse scandal) without voter approval. Politicians will borrow billions in bankrupting burdens if they get this revenue windfall.

The ballot shows no price tags for projects, no priority ranking within groups, no completion deadlines. Not one project is guaranteed. Like the 1999 state roads election, where 80-plus percent of the taxes went to Denver’s T-Rex project, 1A’s long list of vague “improvements” is merely sucker bait to get your vote.

Governments get enough now. Roads are not “extras.” Basics should come first. Politicians starve infrastructure. They know we would refuse tax increases for pay raises and their protected pet projects. Don’t tolerate this blackmail. Demand better budget priorities instead.

Instead of more road repairs, city and county politicians will divert current spending on roads for other purposes, like pay raises. 1A is a shell game. Now you see your money, now you don’t.

Empty city buses lose $6 million yearly now – under 1A, $13 million. They’ll end up wasting 22-plus percent of RTA taxes forever. Higher deficits to carry 1 percent of the population won’t increase riders or reduce traffic. Do you really want to pay for daily trips by empty buses to Rush and Ramah?

Austin Bluffs/Union estimates zoomed from $15 million to $30 million overnight. That intersection obviously needed a bridge when built in 1982. Why reward with more money those who failed to design and build correctly that and other major projects?

Frustrated by I-25 traffic? RTA won’t help. In fact, I-25 widening begins next spring-without RTA.

In 1999, a similar plan for $16 million got 27 percent voter support. 1A is four-and-a-third times more costly.

Two towns with 900 and 5,000 people get one director each, plus a first-tier project each. The county’s 560,000 and city’s 370,000 people get only three directors each. Offering unequal voting and pet projects to buy political support in backroom deals is bad policy. Four other towns opted out because they correctly saw 1A means higher taxes without verifiable benefits – a blank check.

1A’s “formula” for distributing repair money is not based on road miles, needs, or land area, but pure pork barrel spending.

Other counties can join RTA later. Do you want your higher taxes used to fix Pueblo or Elbert County roads? That’s crazy.

RTA can end only by unanimous vote of every elected official of every government -that’s impossible. They have locked in this overlay of self-serving bureaucracy forever.

1A bails out developers who avoided full subdivision costs, like road impacts. Developers are funding 1A campaign costs to force this taxpayer subsidy, so we won’t require new growth to pay its own way. We’ve already approved higher taxes for school impacts, park impacts, police and fire station impacts. What’s next? These scams will continue until citizens shout “no” to public taxation for private profiteering.

Read your election notice, mailed to you thanks to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. (RTA also wants to exempt itself from TABOR forever; read the last part of their 1,100 word ballot title.) But ignore six of the last seven paragraphs listed as “opposition” comments. They were inserted by a 1A supporter as a deceptive, dirty political trick to sabotage, discredit, and pre-empt valid criticism of 1A. Punishing their intentional voter fraud is by itself a good reason to vote “no.”

1A means another layer of government, a 100 percent increase in the countywide sales tax, a blank check forever, vague promises, empty buses, builder bailouts. If you don’t want that, vote “no.”

For more information, or to help defeat this huge tax hike, call 599-5706, e-mail sfgresh@juno.com or visit www.StopRTA.com or www.RaiseTaxesAgain.com.

Steve F. Gresh

Vice President of the Colorado chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus (www.RLC.org)

Colorado Springs