GUEST COLUMN: The delay in gas payment is a pure political move | Opinion

In a law passed this May, Colorado lawmakers postponed the implementation of a new gas charge that was originally set to take effect this month. The delay, however, won’t save taxpayers even a cent – in fact, it will cost them some of their TABOR refund money this year.

State economists estimate that the gas bill will take more than a billion dollars out of drivers ’pockets this decade, or an average of about $ 500 per household in Colorado.

So after signing HB22-1351, the bill to defer payment, Gov. Jared Polis of a statement saying, “We delayed transportation fees to lower the price of gas at the pump.”

A laudable attempt to gain political points from voters at a time when gas prices have hit the highest level in the state’s history, the statement turns out to be true.

The bill would not “reduce the price of gas at the pump” as Polis claims. Instead, it only prevents the gas price increases he has declared to take effect until after this year’s gubernatorial election.

But there’s more to the story, and it’s getting worse. Understanding exactly how rude policymakers have been on this issue, however, requires a short walk down memory lane first.

It started in June when Gov. Police SB21-260, the “Sustainability of the Transportation System” bill. The law created several permanent new taxes that will cost taxpayers upwards of $ 4 billion over the next decade and countless billions more thereafter.

The legislature called the tax increases “fees” to avoid the constitutional requirement that tax increases receive voter consent.

The fees include a per-gallon fee on fuel, which lawmakers consider a “Road Use Fee.” It is set to start at $ 0.02 per gallon on July 1, 2022 and rise annually by $ 0.01 per gallon until it reaches $ 0.08 in 2028, then rise with inflation indefinitely.

In the face of record inflation and a difficult election this November, however, the Colorado Democrats and the governor have made a concerted effort to rebrand their tax-heavy agenda from previous years. They launched the 2022 legislative session in January with a promise to reduce government bills and stay “laser -focused on saving you money.”

There HB22-1351 and the governor’s celebratory press release return to the story. Through the bill, the very group of lawmakers and the same governor who created billions of dollars in new “transportation fees” in June of 2021 delayed some of this May’s bills.

They pushed for the imposition of a $ 0.02 gas bill from July 1, 2022 to April 1, 2023 – releasing its costs to consumers right after the election rather than just shortly.

That is smart politics.

Lawmakers put a destructive ball in front of their constituents, then noticed their suffering, kindly postponed the date of destruction by nine months. Governor Polis and his colleagues in the legislature shamelessly asked for praise for their goodness.

Just three months after the April implementation date, the next fee increase will continue as originally scheduled. The costs come in addition to current state and federal gas taxes.

Now here’s where it gets worse. In fact, it becomes completely deviant.

The delay in the Road Use Fee would cut state revenues by approximately $ 45 million. The state will offset every dollar of that revenue loss by reducing TABOR refunds.

That means taxpayers can’t save a cent on the net.

This year the legislature repeated this scheme in eight different bills, claiming at every opportunity taxpayers save money while dipping into tax refunds to pay for alleged savings.

How politicians handle high gas prices is likely to remain a hot topic towards the election season. Pay attention. When an incumbent on the campaign trail says he saved Coloradans money and made life more affordable, take that as a red flag. He probably did the opposite.

Ben Murrey serves as Director of Monetary Policy at the Independence Institute.

Ben Murrey serves as Director of Monetary Policy at the Independence Institute.