AG Suthers: Supreme Court decision erodes taxpayer rights

Chris Rizo Mar. 16, 2009, 12:24pm

John Suthers (R)

DENVER, Colo. (Legal Newsline)-Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said Monday he is disappointed with the state Supreme Court decision that upheld a tax increase without voter approval.

The state's high court ruled Monday that a 2007 law freezing property tax rates for school districts is constitutional.

The law prevented mill rates from falling because property values would have increased, resulting in a net revenue increase for nearly every school district in Colorado, Suthers said.

Suthers, a Republican, said he is not surprised by the ruling.

"The dissent is imminently better reasoned than the majority's opinion. I remain convinced that the Colorado Constitution dictates that the voters decide when their taxes should be increased," Suthers said.

The law was aimed at preserving funding for public schools. The law is expected to raise $1.7 billion for schools over 11 years.

Denver District Court Judge Christina Habas ruled in May that the law was unconstitutional. But the Supreme Court's 6-1 ruling held that the law does not violate the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR law, which limits the state government's revenue growth.

"With all due respect to the Supreme Court, the district court got this right," Suthers said. "The Supreme Court's decision today represents a fundamental erosion of Colorado taxpayers' rights."

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