The treasurer’s race debate sounded as exciting as vegetable soup. However, there are several interesting questions that host Aaron Harber could have asked Mark Hillman during the treasurer’s debate that would have added some cayenne in the mix.“Mr. Hillman, back in September in 2005, a Wall Street Journal article stated that you believed the 46-state tobacco settlement is illegal, although Colorado has received millions of dollars a year from it.
Here is an excerpt:
Hillman wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal arguing that the (tobacco) settlement, negotiated among state attorneys general and big tobacco companies, was unconstitutional because it set up a system to collect taxes without legislative authority.
“The billions generated by the tobacco settlement conceal the threat that activist attorneys general pose to taxpayers and to checks and balances on political power,” Hillman wrote in the column, published last week.
Since 1998, Colorado has collected $572 million under the settlement, including $87 million this year, according to legislative officials…Colorado has used its share for Medicaid and other programs…..
…Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, said Colorado joined the settlement to help cover the high cost of providing medical treatment for smoking-related illnesses, and to set up tobacco cessation and prevention programs. She said losing that money would be a blow to the state.
“I can’t count the number of services we rely on from the tobacco settlement. I can’t imagine Mark Hillman aligning himself with big tobacco,” Fitz-Gerald said.
“Now, Mr Hillman, let me see if I’ve got this right. You oppose attorney generals procuring funds that can be spent by the legislature because that’s not fair to taxpayers.” (Clears throat.)
“So then, how would you replace the millions and millions of dollars that would be lost every year to Colorado and programs such as Medicaid without the tobacco settlement funds? And, why are you siding with Big Tobacco on this issue?”