Tipton keeps up criticism of Pace with TV ads

Rep. Scott Tipton’s fourth television ad keeps up his drumbeat of criticism against his Democratic challenger, state Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo.

Tipton, R-Cortez, criticizes Pace for a series of votes in the 2010 Legislature on bills that Republicans dubbed the “dirty dozen,” a package of tax bills proposed by former Gov. Bill Ritter in order to avoid cutting school budgets during the recession. Pace voted for most of the bills.

“Pace raised taxes on fuel, agriculture, cars, movie rentals, plastic bags, you name it. Even soda and candy. But worst of all, Pace raised property taxes on our senior citizens on fixed incomes — a devastating blow,” the narrator in Tipton’s ad says.

The ad’s assertions are true in general, although they require some context.

The 2010 bills removed tax exemptions for a variety of special items. Democrats dispute the idea that these bills count as tax increases, because they just suspended special tax breaks without raising tax rates in general.

The ad asserts that Pace raised taxes on fuel. That statement could mislead some viewers, because the bill for which Pace voted (House Bill 10-1190) removed a sales tax exemption for industrial fuel use, and it had nothing to do with gas for cars.

The ad also talks about an agriculture tax. Pace initially voted for HB 10-1195, to remove a sales tax exemption on farm inputs like fertilizer, but he voted against the bill on final passage.

The car tax bill (HB 10-1196) limited an income tax break for buying alternative fuel vehicles like the Ford Escape or Toyota Camry hybrids.

There was no specific bill about taxing movie rentals. But the ad does site a bill on taxation of Internet sales — the so-called “Amazon tax.” Amazon and some other Internet retailers do rent movies.

The tax on plastic bags came from a bill to remove sales tax exemptions on incidental items from restaurants, like bags, napkins and ketchup packets. And the candy and soda bill removed the exemption for those items from the state’s 2.9 percent sales tax.

Finally, the ad restates a charge Tipton made earlier this month, that Pace raised property taxes on senior citizens. The bills in question suspended the “homestead exemption,” which gives seniors a discount of up to 50 percent on their property taxes, but only if they have lived in their homes at least a decade. Republicans and Democrats have voted to suspend the exemption in order to balance the budget over the last 10 years.