ANALYSIS: Reading Max Tyler’s Mind

September 18, 2012

Rep. Max Tyler (D-Lakewood) has been criticized for comparing students to “maggots and worms”, and for supporting higher property taxes for seniors

DENVER – “K-12 education is the foundation of our future, and I’m passionate about making sure our next generation gets a good start,” professes Democrat state Rep. Max Tyler in his campaign against Republican candidate Rick Enstrom, both of Lakewood.

“Let’s put our pointing fingers down and our thinking caps on!” declares Tyler.

But some critics are wondering whether or not the second term Democrat left his thinking cap at home when he raged against an amendment to a public education performance bill on the state House floor in May 2010.

“Why can’t we run schools like a business for crying out loud?” he asked in an exasperated voice about questions he’d heard or read in news articles.

“Well, if you were running a business like making bread and the flour came to you, full of maggots and worms, and you had to use it, you would not be able to produce a very good product,” declared Tyler.

Compass Colorado launched an ad blitz Monday, reminding voters of Tyler’s shocking statement and his votes for more than $3 billion in tax increases, many deemed as “fees” by Democrat lawmakers.

“Max Tyler’s ‘War on School Children’ shows how out of touch he is with human decency,” said Tyler Q. Houlton, president of Compass Colorado.

Like striking Chicago teachers forcing the closure of schools but saying it’s for the good of the children, many in Colorado’s education establishment apparently believe Tyler has the best interests of students in his heart.

Education political action committees, unions and teachers have donated more than $10,000 to his campaign, not exactly chump change.  But that amount is dwarfed by the $155,000 doled out by The Public Education Committee this week to three independent committees to deliver Democrats in four legislative races – including Tyler, who is facing his toughest challenger, Enstrom.

The registered agent for those committees and three 527 committees, all with the same mission, is Julie Wells, a Denver attorney associated with “expenditure committees allied with the Democratic Party and labor groups such as the CEA (Colorado Education Association),” said Todd Engdahl in an email.

Tyler could use the outside help; his campaign finance report Monday indicated a continuing downward trend in fundraising and $41,448 cash in the coffer. Tyler has consistently trailed Enstrom in fundraising.

Despite that deficit, Tyler told The Colorado Observer that he expects to win the race for the House District 23 seat. He was appointed to the seat in 2009, and won election in 2010.

“I would guess that we have a strong chance of coming back as the majority party in the House and the Senate,” Tyler said. And if so, he predicted, “(Gov. John) Hickenlooper will push more social issues and take a leadership role like (former Gov. Bill) Ritter.”

Ritter and Democrats like Tyler approved a package of tax hikes, dubbed the “Dirty Dozen,” that levied taxes on such items as direct mail materials, candy and soda pop, internet sales, food containers such as plastic bags and suspended several tax credits, including the Senior Homestead Property Tax exemption.

“During these tough economic times, we must not forget Colorado senior citizens, many of whom are on fixed incomes and are especially affected by budget cuts,” declared Tyler in his campaign literature.

“If you are burdened with your current property taxes you can get help,” he advised seniors. “The easiest way is to participate in your county’s senior property tax exemption program. If you sign up and receive (a) deferral, you may not have to pay any property tax at all until you sell your house or upon your death.”

That might sound bittersweet to seniors who were forced to pay higher property taxes as they struggled with less income and increased costs of gas, food, medicine and other essentials.

Tyler touts the successful passage of HB10-1001 that expanded Colorado’s requirement for renewable energy – primarily solar and wind – to 30 percent by 2020.

“Colorado over the last few years has taken a pretty good approach to squeezing down our carbon print, (and) creating a new energy economy,” said Tyler at his global warming summit.

After the bill passed in May 2010, he boasted, “That’s gonna fire up, it’s gonna generate new business, new small businesses, new jobs – 10,000 jobs… and that’s just the start.”

But many wind and solar energy businesses have struggled, some are in stages of bankruptcy or collapsed, demand has waned and fewer jobs materialized than predicted. This predicament is despite the federal stimulus money and state credits to subsidize the green industry.

“Three motto’s sum up my approach: better, cheaper, faster; never stop learning; and collaborate with others,” declared Tyler of life’s lessons he learned from running a small business.

On his vintage green truck, Tyler painted, “He works for you!” – a message paid for as part of the $1,316.40 repairs charged to his campaign.

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