Mike Littwin is among the Rocky writers to make the jump to the Denver Post. With all the shaking up, I wish the Post had decided to put its editorial writers on, you know, its editorial page, but for some reason that escapes me it continues to put a select corps of editorial writers on the news side.
Today Littwin argues that the “repeal of the Arveschoug-Bird provision… [is] a start toward fiscal sanity.” Littwin’s reason for this? Wait a minute… this is Mike Littwin, so he doesn’t need any reasons. He’s just that funny.
It is admittedly a complicated issue. So who better to explain it than the leftist Bighorn Center?
Arveschoug-Bird limits the growth of General Fund expenditures to 6% more than the previous year or 5% of personal income, whichever amount is lower. In practice the 6% limit is always less. …
Arveschoug-Bird limits only General Fund spending while TABOR limits the total amount of revenues that state and local governments can keep. Revenues includes most state fees.
With the passage of TABOR, Arveschoug-Bird effectively became “constitutionalized” since TABOR does not allow any spending limit to be weakened without a vote of the people.
There are some notable exceptions that are not counted under the Arveschoug-Bird limit, such as General Fund spending mandated by the federal government and transfers to capital construction.
Wait another minute… where is this “vote of the people?” The Democrats’ answer is basically, “We don’t need no stinkin’ vote of the people.” Colorado Independent explains, “Supporters of the bill, relying on a recent interpretation of the law written by former Supreme Court Justice Jean Dubofky, argued that Arveschoug-Bird is not a cap but an allocation strategy…”
Here is the Republican response:
The bill would end a long-standing policy that caps the growth of the state’s operating budget at 6 percent a year. The legislation would amount to a dramatic shift–shorting highways untold billions of dollars in the years to come — because of a formula that directs all revenue in excess of the cap to transportation and other critical capital projects. Without the cap, the highway-funding formula is moot.
“…the pressure to grow operating programs is immense,” Denver Chamber spokesperson Tamra Ward says in prepared a statement distributed to the business community. “The 6 percent limit prevents operating spending from growing beyond a sustainable level.”
“This bill jeopardizes any hope we might have of fully funding vital road and bridge needs for the foreseable future,” said Assistant GOP Leader Greg Brophy, of Wray. “So it’s really no surprise that so many business groups have stepped forward to call the Democrats out on this reckless move.”
In the end, I simply don’t trust the Democrats to treat the matter as an “allocation strategy.” Instead, they’ll treat it as a way to shortchange transportation so that they can fund other programs, then plead with the taxpayers for new transportation-specific taxes. That’s just the way they roll.