By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)– Republicans at the state Capitol are fuming after Gov. John Hickenlooper agreed to let special tax districts pay for a special legislative session that benefits the districts.
GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham says it gives credence to the criticism that politicians are “bought and paid for.”
“This idea would set a terrible precedent and has potential to create huge public misperceptions about the fairness and integrity of the process.”
Hickenlooper agrees the special districts shouldn’t have to pay, “It’s like the neighbor who’s has their window broken saying, geez just to get the thing fixed I’ll pay for it.”
But, he disputes Grantham’s assertion that a special session is unnecessary.
“A lot of politicians are happy to say it’s not an emergency when it’s not their money. I think if it was his money – and let’s say it was $20,000 he was going to lose between now and January – he’d step up and say, ‘yea this is important.’”
The governor called the special session after lawmakers passed a bill with a drafting error – a typo – that prevents special districts, like RTD and the Science and Cultural Facilities District, from collecting pot taxes they’re entitled to. Every month that goes by, they lose about $600,000.
Republicans say they can’t fix the mistake because it would mean a change in tax policy and that needs voter approval. The governor attorneys he’s consulted disagree. He insists Republicans are being disingenuous, pointing to a bill draft his office has been working on with a republican sponsor.
“They’re pretending they’re saving the state from some unconstitutional tax all the while they’re agreeing to the fix and helping us draft the resolution. It is clearly not a constitutional issue,” said Hickenlooper.
Grantham insists the bill was being drafted for the regular session in January and many Republicans, he says, don’t support it. In a fundraising email to supporters, Grantham accused Hickenlooper of “toying with taxpayer dollars.”
Hickenlooper accused Grantham of using the issue to drum up donations, “Our biggest concern in all this was this would end up getting turned into a political circus and that concern has turned out to be true.”
The governor says he’s willing to call off the special session if Republicans are willing to publicly support a fix in January 2918. So far, they aren’t.
But, the governor remains optimistic, “I am a great believer in the better angles of all of us in this building and I have, again and again, seen when it looks like things are going to get derailed by partisanship often time there’s one person or two people who step up and say we’ve got lots of things to have political battles on this thing really shouldn’t be political let’s get it done.”