As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Billie Stanton reports, Republican Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers’ campaign to pass the city Ballot Issue 2C, a modest increase in the city’s sales tax rate to fund desperately-needed street repair projects, is meeting fierce opposition from national conservative group Americans for Prosperity–and also from the ubiquitous Laura Carno, a Springs-based conservative paid political activist with ties to former gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.
As Stanton reports, the opposition is fierce, but unexpectedly shallow:
“Any politicians raising taxes anywhere – prove to me that that is the only way,” Carno said. “It is our money. When voters say no, government tightens their belts like we have to.”
She points to a report by a certified public accountant, hired by AFP, who said the city budget has enough money to rebuild roads without raising the sales tax.
“I don’t think I need to have any financial acumen to be a taxpayer saying they have not proven to me that they need to do this,” Carno said…
Followed by this frank admission:
“I am not a CPA. I am not an expert. My big fear is that they haven’t proven it to us.” [Pols emphasis]
For many Springs residents, the “proof” Carno is looking for can be found in a ten-minute drive on the city’s crumbling streets. But Carno also relies on a report commissioned by Americans for Prosperity from a certified public accountant named Jay Anderson, whose past includes a stint as budget director for Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas. The major fiscal problems in Kansas caused by large tax cuts recommended Anderson under Brownback are a matter of record, and the state passed a budget this year that was forced to raise some taxes again to close a massive “unexpected” deficit.
You have to wonder how much of Anderson’s “creative” math from Kansas went into his report on how easily Colorado Springs can fix the roads :
His 23-page report reflects several basic misunderstandings of the city budget.
For example, he urged the city to recover more than $20 million in property taxes lost through exclusions. But only churches, nonprofits and the military are excluded. If they were taxed, it would add only $4.3 million to the city’s $20 million in property taxes this year, Mayor John Suthers said.
“Do you think the citizens of Colorado Springs would vote to tax churches and nonprofits? We’d be the only jurisdiction in Colorado that did that,” he said.
In addition, Anderson “recommended” the city slash its funding reserves far below the level considered prudent. Given Anderson’s recent experience in Kansas, and the obvious damage done by that state’s irresponsible fiscal decisions, he’s probably the last person anyone should be taking fiscal advice from. But not only are we being asked to do that, you have Carno backing him up with what’s become her trademark nasal-voiced snarky catchphrase presumptuousness–never mind the fact that she’s, in her own words, “not an expert.” In fact, as Stanton reports in this story, Carno spent 14 years at a credit card issuer that was forced to pay almost half a billion dollars in fines over its predatory lending practices.
All of this adds up to make the opposition to Colorado Springs Ballot Issue 2C look not just rationally unsound, but also fairly…well, contemptible. Unfortunately, however, this is Colorado Springs–so none of these facts may matter to the outcome.
But folks down there deserve to know the whole story of what they’re being told, and by who.