GOP leaders on anti-tax initiatives: Serves Ritter right

The Colorado Independent yesterday noted Gov. Bill Ritter’s strong language during his State of the State address on the three tax-slashing initiatives headed to the ballot in November. Ritter called them dangerous and backwards. Should they pass, the initiatives would cost the state billions of dollars in revenue. Ritter was clearly throwing down the gauntlet to Republican leaders to come out against the proposals. Will they? The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover explored the question from the floor of the General Assembly yesterday, watching and speaking with Republican leaders. He found pained concession and embittered peevishness.

Rep. Mike May, R-Parker
Rep. Mike May, R-Parker

Hoover wrote that Democrats applauded the governor’s tough language and Republicans did not. He wrote that although members of the minority party generally oppose the initiatives, they would see their passing into law as a sort just punishment for Democratic tax-and-spend leadership. That is, Republican lawmakers appear less willing to fight the initiatives than to accept their passage as an “I told you so” fleeting moment of victory.

Hoover:

House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, and Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, both have ripped the measures as badly written and harmful to the state.

But May, who did applaud during that portion of Ritter’s speech, said the ballot measures stir anger among other members of his caucus, who blame the governor and Democrats for them. Democrats have been raising fees and spending so much, they have stirred up the activists who sponsored the ballot proposals, May said.

“I think there’s some sympathy on our side to say, ‘See what you guys have done?’ ” he said.

Penry agreed, saying Ritter, through fee increases and other policies, “has made a mockery of TABOR.”

Observers have suggested that Doug Bruce, the author of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, is behind the the three initiatives.

Ritter gave an exclusive interview to the Colorado Independent last month specifically on the three controversial proposals. He challenged GOP gubernatorial front-runner Scott McInnis to voice an opinion on them.

“McInnis’s main primary rival [Senate Minority Leader Josh] Penry has come out against the initiatives. I think he called them ‘preposterous’… If McInnis would come out, then we could get real momentum. If all the candidates speak to this, it would clearly be significant.”

“Just one of these initiatives would alter state government,” Ritter continued. “We’re talking about an estimated $1.2 billion drop in revenue after years already of cutting services. The amount the initiatives propose to cut would slice into our higher education budget by a factor of two. Something would have to simply go away.”

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