THE BLOG
03/07/2011 05:12 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Not My Job to Raise Taxes, Says Legislator. Then Whose Is It?

It's been pointed out numerous times of late that those good protesters who dumped tea into Boston Harbor in 1773 weren't against taxation. They wanted representation! Taxes, maybe, but let our elected leaders be the ones taxing us, please.

Fast forward about 238 years to Rep. Cheri Gerou talking about taxes Feb. 11 on KVNF community radio in Paonia.

Host Sally Kane asked Gerou about how Colorado will deal with its budget shortfall in the future, and whether tax increases could be "part of the picture."

"It's not my job," answered Gerou, who sits on the Joint Budget Committee. "Tabor does not allow the legislature to present tax increases. And it's not my job."

Not her job? That's what the Boston Tea Party was all about, not to mention the American Revolution and the Egyptian one, etc. And Colorado's Tabor law requires voters to approve tax increases that people like Gerou, or themselves, propose.

Kane didn't ask Gerou about the connection between taxation and representation, but she did present Gerou with a series of thoughtful questions illuminating the dual-track that reporting on the budget story should take.

First Kane asked about the current budget crisis and then about long-term solutions.

Asked about the future, Gerou said, "Way forward for me is to get through this budget cycle."

Gerou added:

Nothing that they [the Fiscal Policy Institute] are talking about has anything to do with this budget cycle. We are required to cut the budget based on what the revenue forecasts are. We're looking at a $1.2 billion deficit, and we have to do that. So, any other conversation about any other process is outside of the realm of what I have to deal with right now.

Kane didn't let Gerou, a Republican from Evergreen, deflect questions about tax increases with a simple, tax increases won't solve our budget our problem now anyway.

Kane told Gerou: "I recognize that the current budget is on your plate at the moment, but there is a sense of where can we head beyond the short term, and that's what I am trying to get at... That was the point of my question, to find out what you personally can see ahead."

"What I can see ahead is business is starting to recover," Gerou said. "And what I can see ahead is companies are growing. And that's the best thing because, quite honestly, business is what funds government. And I'm very heartened by the fact that the economy is going to improve and that we're coming out of the recession, and that when the economy improves, revenue improves and government has more funding. So, that's what I'm looking forward to."

Kane let Gerou go, but earlier in the same interview, Gerou told Kane that the next legislature will be looking at a $700 million shortfall:

"If you look forward to the year after next, we're looking at a $700 million shortfall for K through 12, to backfill K through 12," Gerou said. "So, when we're looking at all these budget deficits, it has to do with the amount of revenue that's coming into the state."

So how does this square with Gerou's proposed "what-I-see-ahead-is-companies-growing" solution to the budget crisis? And her "when-the-economy-improves-revenue-improves-and-government-has more-funding" vision that she's "looking forward to"?