Hickenlooper Quietly Backs $1 Billion Tax Hike

July 11, 2013
Hickenlooper’s support for the tax initiative was described as “probably the worst kept secret in town,” by an adviser

Hickenlooper’s support for the tax initiative was described as “probably the worst kept secret in town,” by an adviser

DENVER – After months of ducking reporters’ questions, Gov. John Hickenlooper made up his mind to support a nearly $1 billion income tax hike for public education Wednesday. The governor revealed his decision Wednesday at a closed door meeting of the Colorado Forum.

The governor has yet to make an official announcement of his support for Initiative 22, which requires 86,105 valid petition signatures to be placed on the November ballot. The petitions, circulated by paid canvassers and volunteers of the teachers union, are due Aug. 5.

Hickenlooper declared he would participate in the “Colorado Commits to Kids” campaign for the tax increase on May 21 when he signed Senate Bill 213, a so-called school reform measure, into law.

But, two weeks later the governor told reporters that he was “ambivalent” about the tax campaign. Hickenlooper had received 16 tax plans proposed by Colorado Forum, and hadn’t picked one to support.

After word leaked of Hickenlooper’s change of heart, KDVR-Fox 31 News reporter Eli Stokols contacted the governor’s chief strategist Alan Salazar for a confirmation.

“The governor has been talking to business leaders about how transformative the new school finance law will be for Colorado kids,” Salazar texted. Hickenlooper’s support for the tax initiative is “probably the worst kept secret in town,” he said

Colorado Forum dispatched a list of members for the media to contact and confirm the governor’s comments made during their breakfast. One of those was Dan Ritchie, chairman and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

“I know (Hickenlooper) has been wrestling with it for some time, talking to a lot of folks and reading and rereading but he came out very strongly and very positively in support of the reforms and the necessary taxing to do it,” Ritchie told The Denver Post.

“He’s willing to take the leadership as I understood him,” said Ritchie.

But, the governor’s leadership style has been questioned on this issue as well as others over the past year. The critics include liberals and conservatives.

“On May 21 you signed SB 213 into law. Today I circulated a petition to get it on the Ballot. Where are you,” tweeted CEA union President Kerrie Dallman on June 14, prodding Hickenlooper to take a stronger stand in support of the tax hike.

The chiding tweet from the teacher’s union president was reported by Colorado Peak Politics and prompted calls for Hickenlooper get off the fence and make up his mind. And finally, he did in a private meeting this week.

“Decision making clearly isn’t Governor Hickenlooper’s strong suit,” said Compass Colorado Executive Director Kelly Maher in a statement. “The way in which he announced support for a massive tax increased should offend Coloradans who deserve decisive  leadership.”

“Being cornered into announcing Colorado families should be burdened with an additional billion dollars in taxes isn’t something to do in a closed-door meeting,” said Maher.

Owen Loftus, spokesman for the Colorado Republican Party, noted that Hickenlooper had signed the education finance reform bill into law, but it would be a hollow piece of legislation without the funding.

“I’d like to commend Gov. Hickenlooper for privately coming forward to support the $1 billion tax hike that he previously wasn’t sure he supported, but is required by a piece of legislation that he signed into law,” said Loftus in a statement.

The governor’s “leadership, if you can even call it that, is anything but inspiring,” said Loftus.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

3 Responses to Hickenlooper Quietly Backs $1 Billion Tax Hike

  1. Bob Terry
    July 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Same stuff where is this coming from ??? Oh the Children …who can’t read can’t write ( or right) Hey the ol if millions can’t solve the problem lets spend many more millions…at your expense of course…need that Union teacher can’t read or care myself can”t fire me mentality… Let’s become California . They can’t do it either..but its debt and you don’t care … Put up or shut up a Model really a model for what ? I’ll vote this down you can’t show results with the funds given…its a flawed concept …but it for the Children..after the teachers union gets their cut…Later as a property taxed owner I’m screwed but to vote for an increase…yeah later for you

    • Bob Terry
      July 11, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      pssttt its a secrect why is HICK being quiet ….shhhhhh you’ll wake up the populace …or at least those that pay for this.. Shhhh Quiet its a secret

  2. Doug Northrup
    July 15, 2013 at 3:30 am

    The Governor is a pathetic, weak excuse for a so called leader. He can’t make a decision to save his life and usually governs by group rather than using his own brain oh that’s right, he’s a hack and belongs in Mexico where he might have a chance to be taco vendor.


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