Gov. Ritter's budget proposal includes $132 million in new revenue from closing various special interest tax provisions. There's a tax credit for a wide array of economic activity. The proposal to apply sales tax to candy and soda may get a lot of attention, but it only generates an additional $18 million a year, less than 14% of the total tax package. Other interests such as agriculture, manufacturing, enterprise zones and conservation easements are contributing more extensively than consumers with a sweet tooth.
We need to take a thorough look at Colorado's tax code. One of the consequences of TABOR that people don't talk about much is the way it's forced us to debate the minutiae of tax policy rather than consider the big picture. We vote on one tax at a time, each ear-marked for a certain cause with the hope that taxpayers are feeling generous on that particular Election Day. Our tax code is riddled with strings and loopholes. We can suspend or eliminate credits and exemptions, but we ought to do a whole lot more.