Who did the GOP its biggest favor during the recently concluded legislative session?

The Democrats.

Now the Republicans  and the entire center-right  need to cash in the gift they’ve been given.

The wrapped gift, in green paper made to look like dollar bills, came in the form of a last-minute, poorly designed, arrogant and deceptive plan to address local taxes that are rising faster than Joe Biden’s disapproval ratings.

It was delivered during the concluding days of this year’s shambolic, chaotic legislative session that careened to a close on Monday night.

Stay up to speed: Sign-up for daily opinion in your inbox Monday-Friday

As most Colorado real property owners know by now, the “new normal” is upward of a 50% increase in local property taxes, thanks to assessed valuations rising and the abolition of a provision in the state Constitution that kept a lid on residential property taxes  at the expense of commercial property owners.

That the loud sucking sound we hear is the government vacuum cleaner heading for your wallet is not news, nor a surprise. In fact, smart people have been doing their best Paul Revere impression for months warning that the taxman is coming.

Yet despite promises that a plan was in the works, in the last days of the 120-day session this plan was rolled out like Hannibal Lecter on a hand truck.

Why the delay?

Two scenarios are possible.

One is that the advocates couldn’t think of a way to truly protect taxpayers without having to tell tax spenders the gravy train of other people’s money was derailing. Or they wanted to jam it through with the least possible time for citizens to shoot holes in a proposal that already looked like moldy Swiss cheese.

It may be a combination of both.

Though many commentators have done in-depth analyses of the provisions of what will face voters as Referendum HH, what is most concerning is the level of flat-out deception that is at its core.

Colorado taxpayers are being told that this measure is a way of providing real financial relief for ballooning local tax bills. But it does so by taking TABOR refund money you are already due and telling you your refund is your relief. As many observers have said, it shifts greenbacks from your your wallet to your hip pocket and you are supposed to be dimwitted enough to thank the plan’s authors for making you richer.

This is the gift that could keep on giving for Colorado’s center-right.

No one  right, left or middle of the road  likes to be duped and taken advantage of. No one likes to be thought of as a naïve dunce. And certainly no one likes to be treated like an ATM by what rocker and activist Ted Nugent calls “our elected employees.”

That is the message the GOP must hammer home daily, sustaining it all summer, particularly in places where there may not be many Republicans afoot, including in newsrooms across the state.  

After all, preaching to the already converted doesn’t grow the congregation.

Republicans know the message works.

The star anchor of Denver’s NBC affiliate, Kyle Clark  no friend to conservatives   took offense at the measure saying it was clear advocates think voters are too stupid to understand how they are being lied to and potentially fleeced. This should be the catapult to get GOP leaders into every newsroom  and to every neighborhood loaded with unaffiliated voters   that will have them.

And it is more than just a complaint that Coloradans are being duped by people who don’t want you to know the truth about this relief-free “tax relief” plan.

There are better ideas.

Credible, focused and savvy policy groups on the center-right such as Advance Colorado, the Centennial Institute and the Common Sense Policy Roundtable are not only cranking out critiques but are beginning to offer serious, reasonable routes to provide real, local tax relief.

And no, despite the usual attacks we can expect from the tax spenders, their plans are not designed to save taxpayers’ money by defunding the fire department, public libraries, law enforcement or public schools.

These groups, and their many effective messengers, have a rare opportunity to speak to Coloradans who will be standing with their tax bill in their hand, jaw agape, wondering who can fix this mess. They will be all ears for anyone who has a credible, responsible path forward.

Go make friends.

Sean Duffy, a former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Bill Owens, is a communications and media relations strategist and ghostwriter based in the Denver area.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.