DENVER – A free-market group took aim at a union-backed plan to raise income taxes on Wednesday, referring to the proposal as the “HickHike,” and unveiling a new ad critical of Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper’s economic record.
The spot blasts Hickenlooper for his support of an across the board income tax hike, a controversial green energy mandate he signed into law that is expected to increase utility bills, and a much-maligned effort to create a new state logo that took over a year and cost taxpayers more than $1 million.
“Governor Hickenlooper’s ‘rebranding’ of Colorado? It’s not working,” the ad announcer begins, as an image of the million-dollar state logo appears on the screen.
“It’s not working for Colorado families who will be forced to pay higher utility rates. It’s not working for small business owners and Colorado’s middle class, who could be hit with a 27 percent tax hike courtesy of Governor Hickenlooper’s billion dollar tax plan,” the voice continues — before cutting to grainy footage of Hickenlooper declaring “We need more money in every part of government.”
“In Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper is busy rebranding our state by making it less affordable, less competitive,” the ad goes on. “Higher utility costs, check. Higher taxes on business, check. Taking more money from the middle-class, check.”
The spot concludes by urging viewers to “Call Governor Hickenlooper and tell him Colorado can’t afford his billion dollar, middle-class tax hike.”
“The people are rising up to remind [Hickenlooper] that this is still Colorado, not California, since he sometimes seems to forget which state he’s running,” said Dustin Zvonek of Americans for Prosperity, the group behind the ad.
“We hope this initiative will send him a clear signal that he’s leading the state in the wrong direction,” Zvonek added.
Hickenlooper announced his support for the tax increase at an August campaign event. The plan would increase the state income tax rate by 8 percent on income less than $75,000, and by 27 percent on income over $75,000.
At the time, Hickenlooper dismissed suggestions that this tax hike proposal would suffer the same fate as Prop. 103, a 2011 tax hike proposal that Colorado voters rejected by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.
“Prop 103 was a request for money without any specifics… this bill has more specifics than any tax increase I’ve ever seen in the country, every dollar is spelled out where it’s gonna go,” Hickenlooper said at the time.
But critics like Zvonek worry that raising taxes would only further undermine an already sluggish economy.
“With so much as stake for the state’s fiscal future and business climate, we thought now was the time to call [Hickenlooper] out for supporting policies that hurt, rather than help, the state’s economy,” Zvonek concluded.
AFP’s ad can be viewed below.