Maes on ‘Big Three’: ‘We’ll be cutting into bone’

At the Colorado Nonprofit Association gubernatorial debate in Denver Thursday, Tea Party-backed GOP candidate Dan Maes said that based on his travels campaigning around the state this year he believes there is “little appetite” among voters for the three statewide tax-slashing initiatives slated for the ballot in November.

John Hickenlooper, left, and Dan Maes at Thursday's Colorado Nonprofit Association debate. (Photo by John Tomasic)
“There’s no appetite for these around the state apart from the people who authored them,” Maes said. Democratic candidate and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has opposed all three initiatives – Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101 — while Maes said he just supports Amendment 60.

Hickenlooper debated Maes at the Denver event Thursday, but American Constitution Party candidate and former Republican congressman Tom Tancredo backed out reportedly because he was scheduled to debate Maes in northern Colorado Thursday night. Tancredo initially backed all three measures but now supports Amendment 60 and Proposition 101.

The state’s nonpartisan Blue Book, which explains for voters the effects of initiatives that appear on the ballot, says that if all three pass, the state general fund will be effectively emptied of revenue — that is, that the state will lose $4 billion and, due to state education funding laws, the state’s entire discretionary spending budget will go to education.

Coming from Maes, the news that there is little appetite for the initiatives should cheer analysts and lawmakers who have repeatedly expressed alarm at the possibility that voters might pass any of the proposals.

Maes not only supports one of the initiatives but he has also been campaigning most of the last year among the hard-core Tea Party constituency that’s fed up with government spending.

Indeed, Tea Party rallies provided rich venues for the signature gatherers who worked to land the initiatives on the ballot.

“This goes beyond cutting fat, beyond cutting into muscle. We’ll be cutting into the bone. Nothing will be sacred,” Maes said. He said school budgets would be slashed and dangerous prisoners would be paroled. “The question is how much can we move more to the private and nonprofit sectors? That’s my goal, with or without these three initiatives.”

Hickenlooper said that the prospect of governing and keeping business thriving in the state should the proposals pass is “unimaginable.”

“The first thing to do is to work feverishly to make sure that none of them pass,” Hickenlooper said.

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