If the dialogue doesn’t change soon, the collective campaign being waged by three candidates for governor in Colorado could be the most inept in the state’s history–and we’ve had some pretty bad campaigns.
In a couple of so-called “debates,” these three guys have not offered a single clue about how they would solve the state’s problems.
Unless the fractured economy suddenly heals–which would require some form of divine intervention–state economists say Colorado will likely face critical budgetary problems when a new governor takes office in January 2011. The incoming governor and a newly elected legislature must deal with the 2011-2012 budget, which may have a $1 billion shortfall.
According to the Denver Post, Republican gubernatorial primary election candidates Scott McInnis and Dan Maes both say they would seek to expand the economy to a point where the business community would prosper, thus increasing tax revenues.
But they have given no idea yet on how they would accomplish that. Both told the Post that they want to restore about $100 million in business tax exemptions cut by the legislature this year. Fortunately for the electorate, one of these guys will be out of the race after the primary election in August.
Hickenlooper, the Democratic candidate who has no primary opposition (which is also unfortunate for the electorate), hasn’t said much about how he would solve the budgetary problem. But, he too, favors restoring the tax exemptions for the business community. He said he will do everything he can to stimulate the economy. That’s reassuring.
How restoring $100 million in business tax exemptions will help balance the state budgetis hard to understand. They were eliminated to help balance the budget in the first place.
Somewhat incredibly, Maes promised to reduce the budget by cutting state funds to education—which is already way below the national average. Of course, a highly educated workforce is a top priority for companies seeking to relocate to Colorado or anywhere else. How will continued cuts to K-12 and higher education lure businesses that demand a state with a strong schools and universities? We’ve already lost two key Colorado companies—Frontier and Quest—as we’ve slashed our education budget. Cutting it more will bring in more business? Get real.
If the 2011-2012 budget shortfall is anywhere near $1 billion, the only cure might be to increase income taxes, which– in this era of the gutless politician–would never be proposed by any candidate, let alone these three guys. In addition to balancing the budget, a tax hike would preserve the University of Colorado’s status as a top academic institution while guaranteeing that K-12 students could be educated to the point they can get into CU.
Unfortunately, the state’s budget problems are not the only issues the gubernatorial trio is dancing around. They seem to have a big problem with transparency.
McInnis and Maes have refused to release their tax returns; Hickenlooper won’t itemize the charities to which he contributed money. Rightwing radio talk show blabbermouths say that’s because he has contributed to some goofy leftwing organizations.
An even more interesting response to the question of charitable contributions came from McInnis. When asked to list his contributions, McGinnis said he once shot an elk (Or was it a moose? I don’t remember, but I think it was mostly bull, anyway,) and gave it to a needy family.
There is a lot of need in Colorado these days.
Unemployed workers need jobs; businesses need consumers, which are scarce because consumers need money, which is in short supply because wages are stagnant. The state needs revenues, which have been continually diminishing because workers without jobs and businesses without customers don’t pay taxes.
And neither restoring the business tax breaks nor killing more elk will solve the problems.
We need more from our candidates.