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« George Washington | Main | Blog Talk Radio »

How to Amend the Constitution Without Really Trying

What part of "Constitutional Amendment" do the Democrats have a problem with?

Now, they're floating a proposal for an end-run around TABOR using fees and cash funds as a Trojan Horse. You have to put together the various pieces, but there's a point where a piecemeal attack on TABOR turns into a successful nullification.

Warning: Extended Geekery Below

TABOR, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, requires tax increases, or any change in tax policy that would result in a tax increase, to be approved by the voters. But fees can be increased ad infinitum, and according to a recent Supreme Court ruling, can be increased without limit, by the legislature, and the money taken in needn't be spent in any relation to the service on which the fee is levied. This means that money taken in by a vehicle registration fee, for instance, can be used for any purpsoe whatsoever.

Now when TABOR - a Constitutional Amendment - was passed, it stated that any pre-existing spending limits would be made permanent. Byrd-Arvescoug, passed in the late 80s, limited the general fund spending, discretionary spending, to a 6% per year increase. (This was passed as an attempt to head off TABOR, which limits overall spending increases to inflation + population increase, but TABOR passed anyway.)

There are also separate cash funds, supposed to be used for specific purposes, and funded by fees levied on government services and registrations. However, the legislature recently began raiding those funds - supposedly temporarily - to make up the general fund shortfall.

Now, Democrats in the legislature - along with the help of one Republican - are floating the novel legal theory that Byrd-Arvescoug isn't a spending limit, but an, "allocation strategy." This means they'd be able to pass a bill - without going to the people - to increase general fund spending by whatever they want.

And they'd fund that spending by taking the money out of cash funds, and raising fees until people screamed for a "more fair" allocation of the burden.

It seems that even in a recession, the least important thing the government wants to spend money on is more important that the most important thing you'll spend money on.

Progressively More Intrusive. Progressively More Restrictive. Progressively More Expensive.

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