THE BLOG
04/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Anti-Tax Bastion Colorado Springs Shows What America Would Look Like If Conservatives Have Their Way

Note: We'll be discussing this on AM760 this morning between 7am-10am Colorado time (9am-12pm ET). Tune in on your local radio dial or at www.am760.net.

As the recession drives state coffers into the deep red, we're seeing many tax fights erupt all over the country - fights that are bringing out the best and worst in our politics.

On the good side you have swing-state victories like the one we saw in Oregon, where voters approved two ballot measures raising taxes on their state's wealthiest residents and corporations. You also have a battle happening in the Colorado legislature, led by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and Democratic legislators, who are courageously pushing to suspend 13 tax subsidies and exemptions for corporate special interests (Listen to my Friday interview with Ritter about taxes starting at 28 minutes into this podcast - he threatens a veto of the regressive grocery tax corporate interests have been pushing as a replacement to Democrats' proposals).

But you also have states like Indiana, which, according to the Wall Street Journal, are looking to cap property taxes "despite cuts in fire, police and other local services the limits have caused."

These are big, transformative and much overdo skirmishes about what we as a society value - and do not value. And to know the stakes are high, just look at perhaps the single most conservative, anti-tax and anti-government bastion in America - Colorado Springs.

The hometown of Focus on the Family, The Springs (as we call it out here in Colorado) is where the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights originated. TABOR, for those who don't know, prevents the state legislature from ever raising taxes, and forces massive spending cuts during times of recession. And now, as the Denver Post reports, the city - which has legislated much of the anti-tax fervor into municipal ordinance - has become a shining example of what happens to a community when conservatives' anti-tax policies are distilled into their most pure form:

COLORADO SPRINGS -- This tax-averse city is about to learn what it looks and feels like when budget cuts slash services most Americans consider part of the urban fabric.

More than a third of the streetlights in Colorado Springs will go dark Monday. The police helicopters are for sale on the Internet. The city is dumping firefighting jobs, a vice team, burglary investigators, beat cops -- dozens of police and fire positions will go unfilled.

The parks department removed trash cans last week, replacing them with signs urging users to pack out their own litter.

Neighbors are encouraged to bring their own lawn mowers to local green spaces, because parks workers will mow them only once every two weeks. If that.

Water cutbacks mean most parks will be dead, brown turf by July; the flower and fertilizer budget is zero.

[...]

"I guess we're going to find out what the tolerance level is for people," said businessman Chuck Fowler, who is helping lead a private task force brainstorming for city budget fixes. "It's a new day."

The next time you hear a conservative prattle on about how much he/she hates taxes and how the solution to all problems in America is to cut taxes, remember Colorado Springs. It is the anti-tax zealot's nirvana - and it shows what America would look like if our politics continue to be dominated by the me-first, screw-everyone-else crowd and their tax-hating ways.