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Hickenlooper’s alchemy: no new taxes but more resources

Posted by Michael Sandoval on January 19th, 2011
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Except for a “couple of neighborhoods” in Boulder, “there’s no appetite for taxes anywhere, all over the state,” joked Gov. John Hickenlooper, as he made his introductory points in the last stop of a four-day, eight city tour of Colorado.

While Hickenlooper’s whirlwind Bottom-Up Economic Development Tour came to a close Monday in Loveland, he repeated a fierce pro-business message, balanced against regulations, until those regulations becomes “red tape”:

“All of our legislature can tell you they - we have our work cut out for us in terms of just balancing the budget. There’s no extra money anywhere. Pretty much everything is pretty significantly funded, and yet there’s no appetite for taxes anywhere, all over the state. Well, maybe a couple neighborhoods in Boulder. Just a joke. Turn that camera off.”

Those in attendance, of course, laughed heartily at Hickenlooper’s assertion, but the laughter may have obscured the larger point, and one that the Democrat would turn quite quickly towards - namely the necessity for additional revenue from a source other than taxation, in order to provide “resources” for the government (to spend on transportation, health care, higher education).

In other words, while the “appetite” may not be present for more taxation, actually cutting spending from a state budget that has doubled from $9.63 billion in 1998 to $19.17 billion in 2010 does not appear to be all that palatable either to the new governor. As he continued, Hickenlooper suggested that many in attendance and elsewhere across the state during his tour wanted to see a comprehensive menu of government services continue to be funded:

“But it’s true there is no appetite to raise taxes and if you recognize that you don’t have any hidden pool of money and you want more resources for your kids or for your transportation, for your health care system, right? If you want to put more money into higher ed, then the only solution you have is to figure out, ‘How we can be more pro-business’? How can we help stimulate our small businesses, our medium businesses, our large businesses - how can we be more pro-business and, this being Colorado, that means we’ve got to hold ourselves at the highest level of accountability, in terms of making sure that we don’t compromise our environmental standards, our ethical standards, right?

“How can we be more pro-business to make sure that we do everything we can to help the businesses that are here in Colorado to expand and succeed and hire more people? But, at the same time, make sure that we don’t, in any way, compromise all those natural wonders - the incredible landscapes - that attracted so many people here in the first place, and that we want to leave to our kids and to their grandkids in at least as good condition as it is today, if not better.

“And that’s a real balancing act, right? I think in all 64 counties to have a discussion about where is that boundary between appropriate regulation - we all know that we need some regulation - and when it gets to become red tape. And it’s not just government; every large enterprise has an impulse, an inclination, towards red tape.

“It’s easy to talk about, but it’s going to be difficult, and we’re going to need your help, to try and find out, ‘Where is that boundary?”

Part of finding that boundary, Hickenlooper has already indicated, could come from his proposal to include “regulatory impact statements” along with every piece of legislation, in addition to the traditional fiscal note that is normally attached.

Measuring the cost to business of the “red tape” regulations that are proposed most frequently as a way of enforcing those uncompromising “environmental standards” would present one small piece-should it be adopted-of delineating that red-tape boundary that Hickenlooper has verbally attacked in the week since his inauguration, but that members of his own party seem so keen to enforce.

By offering only a vision to increase revenue - or “resources,” according to Hickenlooper - the discussion of whether or not government should be undertaking the provision of the services necessitating the additional funding in the first place has, unfortunately, been omitted.

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  • Post by Michael Sandoval on January 19th, 2011

3 Responses to “Hickenlooper’s alchemy: no new taxes but more resources”

  1. [...] dime could provide at least one more budget-balancing measure at a time when finding additional “resources” is a priority for the new [...]

  2. [...] Gov. John Hickenlooper’s humorous riff in January that “there’s no appetite for taxes anywhere, all over the state. Well, maybe a couple [...]

  3. [...] Sorry, Gov. Hickenlooper. The cameras were rolling, and I managed to catch you in that moment of honest reflection after the election scrutiny had passed, in a post at WhoSaidYouSaid: [...]

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