DENVER (CBS4) – While political adversaries of Gov. John Hickenlooper are calling him out for not taking an official position on Proposition 103, the governor made it clear this week where his sympathies lie.
Proposition 103, a state ballot initiative being voted in November, would return sales and income taxes to 1999 levels for 5 years in Colorado. Sales taxes would rise by about 3.5 percent and income taxes would jump by 8 percent. The money raised — about $3 billion — would go to education.
Unlike with some ballot initiatives in the past that have involved tax increases Hickenlooper has not appeared in any ads or pushed publicly for the measure.
There’s been a lot of pressure on the governor to take a position in recent months. This week Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to Hickenlooper urging him to oppose Prop 103 because they say it would hurt the state’s economy.
On Thursday Colorado Speaker of the House Rep. Frank McNulty, a Republican, pointed out that Hickenlooper has taken a position on another ballot issue this fall, albeit one that doesn’t involve new taxes. Hickenlooper now says he opposes the city of Denver’s Initiative 300, which would require paid sick leave in companies with 10 or more workers.
“I do find it odd that the governor would choose to take a position on a ballot iniative in the City and County of Denver but yet is unwilling to take position on ballot initiative in front of state of Colorado,” McNulty said. “He is governor of the state of Colorado.”
While Hickenlooper told CBS4 political specialist Shaun Boyd on Thursday that he won’t cave to the pressure, he also hinted that he doesn’t share the Republican sentiment on 103.
“I made a commitent when running for governor that I would for the first year not support any new tax increase, and to me I was saying that I would stay out,” Hickenlooper said at one point during the interview.
But then he said: “I made a commitment that I wouldn’t support any tax initiatives in our first year but that doesn’t mean I’m not very sympathetic to the people. Look at level of cuts we’ve made in education,” he said. “You are sympathetic to people that want find some way of getting new resources into those classrooms.”
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The conservative-leaning Independence Institute says Proposition 103 would lead to losses of at least 7,400 jobs across the state.
Sen. Rollie Heath, a Democrat who is behind the measure, says if the state doesn’t support education no business will want to come here.