Colorado’s economy has shown remarkable resiliency in the wake of the Great Recession. Unemployment has steadily fallen from a high of 9.6% in 2010 to an estimated 4.1% in November 2014. Income indicators roared past pre-recession levels and now both wages and salary and per capita income are significantly higher. In the past five years, taxes and fees paid by Coloradans to their state government have grown by 43% from $8.5 billion to an estimated $12.3 billion in the current year. And next year, state revenue could surpass the state’s spending limit for the first time in 15 years, triggering a modest rebate to taxpayers of $116 million or 0.4% of next year’s state budget. But those in the Government Always Needs More Money Choir just can’t stand this prosperity. They are howling that that this modest refund – and perhaps future refunds, if the economy continues to grow – are somehow strangling our state government.
The crushing defeat of Amendment 66 was a seismic event in Colorado politics that will also reverberate nationally. By virtue of its size, audacity, and above all its setting, Amendment 66 was a potential template for those committed to growing government and redistributing wealth. As noted by 66 opponent Kelly Maher of Coloradans for Real Education Reform Colorado, Amendment 66 could answer a question long-posed by liberal political strategists across the country: “How do you sell a massive tax increase?”
John Hickenlooper had a chance to bring a breath of fresh air to the governor’s office. Imminently likable and with a charmed political career, he could have been the rare maverick moderate Democrat – strong enough and bold enough to be a governor for all Colorado. He could have been the adult in the room when liberal legislators ran amok on the lunatic fringe.
Ken Buck’s views and experience make him “the right man to take on the mess in Washington” as a senator from Colorado, argues John Andrews in the August round of Head On TV debates. And John says the outsider candidacy of Dan Maes for governor, already successful beyond all odds, “might surprise everyone” against John Hickenlooper. But Susan Barnes-Gelt predicts a 20-point blowout for Hickenlooper, along with a narrow win for incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. John on the right, Susan on the left, also go at it this month over a trio of tax-cutting ballot issues and the Denver mayor’s animus toward autos. Head On has been a daily feature on Colorado Public Television since 1997. Here are the four scripts for August:
How convenient, now that Bill Ritter is no longer running for governor and John Hickenlooper is hoping to succeed him, Hick suddenly discovers after months of silence that the incumbent Democrat was “anti-business” in brutalizing the oil and gas industry last year and “crazy” in raising taxes during a recession this year. Meanwhile the Governor obligingly plays his part by voicing annoyance at the Mayor’s criticisms.
Randal O'Toole of the Cato Institute, author of the new book Gridlock, spelled out the fiscal folly of Denver's light rail plans at Issue Monday, Feb. 22, hosted by the Centennial Institute at CCU's School
After all the Hickenhoopla dies down, Colorado voters may experience a sick feeling of déjà vu as the Denver mayor and Democrat candidate for governor claims that he’s “business friendly.” We’ve been down this campaign trail before, just four years ago, when nice guy Bill Ritter bent over backward to ingratiate himself to every gullible business organization in the state. Only the most ardent Republicans refused to fall for the fallacy of a business-friendly Democrat, and business leaders and editorial boards across the state have been (deservedly) kicking themselves ever since.