Republicans threw a giant wrench into one of the Democrats’ primary legislative objectives, yesterday, when Senate President Bill Cadman revealed a legal memo saying it would be unconstitutional.
For weeks, Democrat leaders from House Speaker Dickey Lee Hulinghorst to Gov. John Hickenlooper have been touting a proposal to exempt the current hospital provider fee program from the TABOR revenue cap. The news that such a move is actually unconstitutional is a huge blow to supporters of the plan and a big win for Cadman, especially considering the legislative session hasn’t even started yet.
Democrats and members of the corporate welfare loving class (we’re looking at you, Denver Chamber) were really hoping to hang their hat on this proposal. They even invoked talking points that included the usual misrepresentations this money would be used to fund roads and schools.
As a side note, surely we can’t be the only ones who are sick of the same ol’ fear mongering year after year. You know, the never-ending declarations that if we don’t blow up TABOR and take more money from taxpayers that higher education will face deep cuts, our schools will suffer and our roads will crumble. Is there room to improve funding in all these areas? Perhaps, but that doesn’t justify giving our constitution the finger. Legislators are elected to make tough spending choices, not gouge the people.
Republicans were (rightly) skeptical of the plan to take the hospital provider fee out from under TABOR, with House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso calling it a “shell game” earlier this week. At the very least, voters should be given a voice on these issues.