Category Archives: Transportation

 GUEST COLUMN: Transportation tax a bad idea for Colorado

 

By: Kim Monson  April 23, 2017

The proposed 21 percent state sales tax increase, Colorado transportation House Bill (HB)17-1242, estimates tax collection of $14 billion, however, only $5 billion (if we’re generous) is required to go to roads and bridges. A big portion can be spent on subsidized multimodal projects (light rail, bullet trains, bike & walk paths, driverless cars, high occupancy vehicles, etc). Everything but a privately owned vehicle. If you like your car, you may not be able to keep your car.

HB17-1242’s proposed 21 percent state sales tax increase passed in the Colorado House of Representatives and is traveling through the Colorado Senate. If approved, HB17-1242 will appear on the Colorado ballot in November 2017. I hope that our state senators who care about hardworking individuals throughout Colorado will just say no!

A 21 percent state sales tax increase hurts Colorado families who are trying to make ends meet, save for their children’s education and dream of buying a home. Almost everything we purchase – cars, clothes and craft beer – will be more expensive, however, interestingly enough, aviation fuels used in turbo-propeller or jet engine aircraft are items exempted in HB17-1242. Curious.

Per the Colorado Chamber Capitol Report, HB17-1242 is estimated to bring in $700 million per year or $14 billion over the 20-year life of the tax increase. Fourteen billion is a lot of money and HB17-1242 is one of the most impressive “bait and switches” in recent Colorado history. Here’s the breakdown:

– $375 million per year is dedicated to pay off $3.5 billion (not to exceed $5 billion with interest) in Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs). The $3.5 billion is to be used for Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) capital projects, implying roads and bridges, however the money can be used for multi-modal capital projects as well.

– $227.5 million per year or $4.55 billion is earmarked for counties and municipalities for transportation projects, again not restricted to roads and bridges.

– $97.5 million per year or $1.95 billion is earmarked for multimodal projects.

In adding up the numbers, that leaves $3.5 billion with no explanation of spending. And the language in HB17-1242 asks that these taxes not be subject to the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), Article X of the Colorado Constitution. If taxes collected from HB17-1242 are above projections, the transit czars, politicians and bureaucrats can keep our hard-earned dollars instead of returning the excess back to the people.

Our roads and bridges could certainly use a little love. However, politicians and bureaucrats have been shaving anywhere from 20 percent to 30 percent out of the Highway User Tax Fund for subsidized projects such as trains, bike paths and walking paths for years while neglecting our roads and bridges.

The preliminary 2018 Colorado budget calls for $26.8 billion in spending. If politicians and bureaucrats would dedicate just 1 percent of the budget for our roads and bridges, Coloradoans could enjoy less road congestion, safer highways and faster mobility without a 21 percent ding in our wallets.

Kim Monson is co-host of “The Americhicks – Molly & Kim” on Salem Media’s 1690 AM, KDMT “Denver’s Money Talk” or livestream at americhicks.com. Monson is a former Lone Tree City Council councilwoman.

Click here for the original article.

Just Say No To Those Federal Funds

Great societies care about how they treat their neighbors and are concerned about the legacy they pass on to their children.

Recently, Lone Tree City Council voted on three intergovernmental agreements to help fund the Southeast Light Rail Extension. The overriding issue is accepting federal money for regional projects. America was founded on the idea that projects benefitting a certain region be paid for by that region. It isn’t fair, just or sustainable to saddle the next generation with an ever-increasing federal debt or to ask citizens in neighboring states to pay for regional projects that do not benefit them.

John Eastman, a well-respected constitutional attorney, has written an excellent piece, “Why General Welfare Limits Spending.” The left has hijacked the phrase “general welfare” found in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution to justify spending countless trillions of federal tax dollars on questionable projects. In reality, “general welfare” means that the federal government is to use tax dollars only for things that benefit all of us.

The interstate highway system benefits all of us, enabling us to freely move about the country as individuals, to transport oranges from Florida, produce from California and beef to New York. It provides for our common defense with infrastructure to move troops, supplies and people in the event of disasters or attacks. This too is a critical responsibility of the federal government.

The federal government’s allocation of our tax dollars for projects is a sacred responsibility, not to be taken lightly. The gas tax was created to pay for the interstate highway system and was “sold” as monies to build and maintain our roads and bridges. This makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is politicians and bureaucrats shaving anywhere from 20 percent to 30 percent off gas tax funds for other projects, like public transit, bike paths and walk paths. Federal grants are given out like candy to kids for these projects while our interstate roads and bridges crumble.

The federal contribution of $92 million toward the $207 million (or $233 million depending on the source) for the construction of the 2.3 miles of additional track for the Southeast Light Rail Extension is an example of federal funds for regional projects. It’s not fair that someone in Ohio pay to build light rail in Colorado.

There are two popular rebuttals from those who lobby for and accept federal monies. The first is “if we don’t take the money, someone else will.” Secondly, I hear, “we pay income tax, therefore, we are just getting back some of what we paid in.”

In reality, not only are we misappropriating tax dollars, we are spending more than we have. Within the past few years alone our federal debt has ballooned from $10 trillion to more than $18 trillion. This is irresponsible. The federal government is spending money that does not exist.

Hard choices need to be made and city government is in the position to make them. As elected officials at the local level, we have a responsibility to say “no” to the federal dollars being offered to us for our regional projects. If all of us across the country — mayors and city council members alike — rallied together and said “no”’ to the sweets being offered to us by the feds, we would be doing our part to stop the unhealthy hand out of tax dollars to projects that are not for the “general welfare.”

Our children and grandchildren are the ones who ultimately suffer from this irresponsible taking of “taxpayer funds” that don’t exist and is ratcheting up the federal debt. Our only hope to address the deficit is to cut spending and free up the economy.

Kim Monson represents District 2 on the Lone Tree City Council.

This article was originally posted as a Guest Column on the Lone Tree Voice