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The Bitter Truth of a 'Conservative' Tax Increase   August 19th, 2011
A tax increase by conservatives is just as damaging as one by liberals       

 
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The Douglas County School Board has done some exceptional work over the last two years. Their efforts to guarantee that parents have the right to school choice are making headlines nationwide as they fight the ACLU. For this, each board member deserves our thanks, gratitude, and respect.

It would, however, be unfortunate if they were to stray from policies that conservative Douglas County supports.

Thankfully, they haven't yet.

The school board will consider a mill levy question (tax increase) at their meeting scheduled for August 30th. The school board can't unilaterally raise taxes, but they can put the question on the November ballot. It would be up to the citizens of Douglas County to approve or reject the tax increase.

Yet, in hard economic times such as these, the school board should have the restraint and good sense to not add to the economic uncertainty of residents by even asking the question.

Some believe that while a generic tax increase to allow the district to avoid tough decisions would be inappropriate, we should have an open mind when it comes to accepting tax increases for new worthwhile programs. This argument is unpersuasive. Conservatives raising taxes for programs we support would be no different, economically, than liberals raising taxes for programs they support. As a conservative county, residents of Douglas aren't looking to pay more taxes for new programs. We're expecting the school board to make the hard decisions necessary to advance good ideas within the available revenue.

Others claim we need to raise taxes in order retain good teachers by implementing merit pay to compensate for limiting tenure. Again, the argument is not compelling. In this economy, those of us with jobs are thankful just to have a job. Many of us haven't received raises or bonuses for years, and most of us never had tenure. Our reward for doing a good job has been to simply keep our job, and we are grateful for that. To ask citizens to pay more taxes for raises or bonuses that we ourselves are not receiving is just not appropriate.

There is also the opinion that the citizens of Douglas County should have the opportunity to vote on this matter. But while TABOR gives citizens the final word on raising taxes, it doesn't absolve elected officials from the responsibility of considering the merits of such proposals, and considering the economic conditions in which we citizens are struggling to survive. TABOR doesn't excuse elected officials from principled leadership.

Finally, regardless of the possible merits of any program or proposal, if it can't be funded in the current recessionary budget crunch using existing revenues, then the board should consider the reality that perhaps now isn't the time to do it. Many residents of Douglas County have things we'd like to buy--even invest in--but the current economy doesn't allow it. The same is true for any governmental agency, including the school district.

The Douglas County School Board should continue its remarkable two-year legacy by acting just as fiscally conservatively as the citizens of Douglas County whom they serve. Just as many of us have made difficult cuts to live within our revenue--and then made more cuts--the school board should continue to do the same. By putting a tax hike on the ballot, the board would inevitably be joining Boulder Democrat Sen. Rollie Heath in supporting a tax hike. They would be uniting with President Obama in asking for more taxes. And they would be working in unison with liberal school board candidates that seek to unseat the conservative school board members in the upcoming election.

The board needs to know that while they can count on the county's support in advancing school choice and other pro-parent, pro-children, and pro-taxpayer initiatives, they will not have our support when it comes to raising our taxes during a recession in the November election.

Please let the school board know that you are opposed to a tax increase question on this November's ballot. If possible, please attend the school board's meeting on August 30th at the district administration building at 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock at 7pm. If you would like to address the school board at the meeting, pre-register for public comment at the DCSD Website. And, regardless, please send your views to the school board's secretary at Nona.Eichelberger@dcsdk12.org and she will forward your comments to all board members. Be sure to thank the board for their good work on school choice but let them know that you are opposed to their asking for a tax increase during this recession.

We must support our conservative school board where we can, but always be ready to give them constructive input when we must.

This is not the year to raise taxes at any level of government, and it's important that the public make its voice heard so that the school board will decline to do so.



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