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Colo. state Sen. Newell “probably will vote for” Prop. 103

By | October 23rd, 2011

The latest hide-and-seek game in Colorado politics is finding out who supports Proposition 103, the misguided Nov. 1 ballot initiative that seeks to raise taxes $2.9 billion over the next five years, purportedly for education.

That unease may come from either supporting a tax hike during a time of eight percent unemployment in Colorado; or stiff-arming the Colorado Education Association, the powerful teachers union that has endorsed Prop. 103.

So the seemingly safe path is to say nothing.

Consider Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s tap dance this year. In January, he said, “ There’s no appetite for taxes anywhere, all over the state…”

Yet, Bloomberg News quoted Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown last month stating Hickenlooper “has no plans to endorse or oppose” Prop. 103.

By not saying definitively whether he’s for it or against it, Hickenlooper now faces pressure from the left. The Denver Post reports

“But now 1,200 Proposition 103 supporters themselves have come out and asked Hickenlooper – and state legislators – to take a position – in favor of the measure. Barring that, they want a promise that if it passes, he and lawmakers won’t seek to undo it.”

What other Democratic officeholders are ducking the question? State Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont; House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo; and state Rep. Joe Miklosi, D-Littleton - all of whom are running for Congress in 2012 - have neither endorsed nor opposed Prop. 103, as far as I can tell.

Colorado Peak Politics reported this summer nearly 20 legislators who publicly supported Prop. 103.

As of Thursday, Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, is among those expressing support.

There was a debate that day hosted by the South Metro Chamber of Commerce between state Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Denver, who has been driving the Prop. 103 effort, and Victor Mitchell, a former state legislator who heads SaveColoradoJobs.org, which opposes the tax hike.

At one point, Mitchell and Newell (attending the event), had this exchange…

Mitchell: “Just out of curiosity, Senator, are you supportive of Prop. 103?”

Newell: “Personally?”

Mitchell: “Yes.”

Newell: “You want to get me on the record…”

Mitchell: “No, not, I’m just wondering. I wasn’t sure what your position was on it…”

Newell: “Right. Well actually, I’ve learned today and I probably will vote for…”

Mitchell: “…So you’re taking the Hickenlooper position?”

Newell: “No. No, no, no. I probably will vote for it.”

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