BLOOMBERG’S BACK: NYC Mayor Gives $1 Million to Billion Dollar Tax Hike Campaign

See updates below.

It’s triple or nothing for Mayor Bloomberg in Colorado. The New York City mayor, who spent $350,000 earlier this year on the losing recall defense campaigns of Angela Giron and John Morse, is back with another big check, this time $1 million for the billion dollar tax increase campaign.

Along with the check came a healthy helping of hypocrisy from Governor Hickenlooper, who publicly thanked Bloomberg only days after criticizing money from out-of-state interests.

As KDVR‘s Eli Stokols reports:

DENVER — Backers of Colorado’s Amendment 66, which would increase income taxes to generate $950 million annually for Colorado schools, announced Monday that billionaires Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg have both contributed millions of dollars to their campaign…

In a press release from the Yes on 66 campaign announcing the contributions, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper — not any of the other less prominent political advocates and business leaders supporting the campaign — offered a quote thanking the out-of-state donors.

“Our deep thanks go to Bill and Melinda Gates, Mayor Bloomberg, and all of our Colorado donors for supporting Amendment 66,” Hickenlooper said in the release. “It is a testament to the breadth and depth of our reforms that Colorado has attracted the attention of business leaders across the country.”

That’s noteworthy given Hickenlooper’s recent statements to national media advising national groups to stay out of Colorado politics and policy debates.

“Colorado is a state that people like to be themselves and solve their own problems,” Hickenlooper told USA TODAY earlier this month. “They don’t really like outside organizations meddling in their affairs.”

We welcome Bloomberg’s money — TV station sales managers love it and Colorado voters abhor it. Great news for everyone but the actual recipient of Bloomberg’s bucks.

On Hickenlooper’s hypocrisy, however, we sure would love to see a reporter follow up, and not just for a punt from a spokesperson.

Which is it Governor Hickenlooper – do you think outside influences are a good or bad thing in Colorado elections?

UPDATE: The staffer running Hickenlooper’s Twitter account apparently likes our analysis:


UPDATE: Pollster and former head of the Colorado Democrats offers his analysis of the issue, calling Bloomberg and Gates “America’s two most hyperactive billionaires”:

“Well, without $10 million, the Governor and Amendment 66 supporters decided it’s losing. But for more saturation media, and most importantly a final week of browbeating infrequent but liberal voters into returning ballots, the proposal would lose.

Can $2 million more buy it? Tuesday night will be interesting.”


#HICKHIKE: AFP Blasts The Guv For The Billion Dollar Tax Hike In New Ad

The billion dollar tax hike slated to be on the ballot this November won’t likely be the only political loser come Election Day. Governor John Hickenlooper’s support of the measure is all but assured to further erode the moderate image he’s sought to project since taking office.

While he may have announced his support for the tax increase behind closed doors, Americans for Prosperity Colorado want to make all Coloradans know about it.

Reports The Colorado Observer:

DENVER – A free-market group took aim at a union-backed plan to raise income taxes on Wednesday, referring to the proposal as the “HickHike,” and unveiling a new ad critical of Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper’s economic record.

The spot blasts Hickenlooper for his support of an across the board income tax hike, a controversial green energy mandate he signed into law that is expected to increase utility bills, and a much-maligned effort to create a new state logo that took over a year and cost taxpayers more than $1 million.

In addition to the ad, AFP Colorado also launched an online petition encouraging people to tell Governor Hickenlooper that they can’t afford a billion dollar tax hike.

Check out the ad below:


OOPS: Tax Hike Signature Campaign Needs Line-by-Line Review of Petitions

The campaign to raise income taxes by a billion dollars a year hit a major snag on their path to the ballot today, with Secretary of State Scott Gessler announcing his office’s review of a random sample of tax hike petition signatures did not meet the threshold for approval.

Now the tax hike campaign will have to have all 165,706 signatures they submitted reviewed line-by-line.

Based on the 5% random sample reviewed by Gessler’s office, the tax hike petition gatherers had a validity rate of 56% — a far, far cry from the 97% validity rate seen in the Giron recall.

This is especially embarrassing for the tax hike campaign considering they paid a Washington, DC firm — Fieldworks — over $500,000 to get this done.

Upon word breaking of the decision, conservative group Compass Colorado was out with a statement:

“It’s no surprise that an out-of-touch Washington, DC firm – paid over half a million dollars to date – struggled to properly collect signatures to put a billion dollar tax increase on the ballot in Colorado,” said Compass Colorado Executive Director Kelly Maher. “When you have East Coast and special interests entering the state to try to impose their will on Colorado’s families, the result will never be a good one.”

Maher continued: “The need for review is a huge indictment on the claimed momentum of their campaign. The people of Colorado do not want and cannot afford a billion dollar tax increase at a time when our recovery is fragile.”

Considering that the tax hikers only need a 50% validity rate to get on the ballot, as they turned in double the necessary signatures, this isn’t likely to keep the issue off the ballot, but it will provide headaches for the tax hikers and a round of embarrassing press.

Welcome to the big leagues, Curtis Hubbard.


CLUNKER: Even Aspen Doesn’t Like Hick’s Tax Hike

Governor John Hickenlooper may be throwing his political weight behind the billion dollar tax hike campaign at a press conference tomorrow, but it appears he still has some of his liberal base to shore up on the issue.

The Aspen Daily News reports that the Aspen School Board is “struggling over” whether to support the tax increase because it would actually mean a loss of funding for Aspen schools, requiring the School Board to ask for another tax increase after the billion dollar statewide one passes.

Aspen School Board members are struggling over whether to support a proposed statewide income tax increase for education, because part of the new law would put a dent in state funds the local district receives to compensate for the area’s high cost of living…

The measure also would eliminate the existing school finance formula, which figures in cost of living in state distributions to local school districts. Aspen’s cost of living increase is one of the highest in Colorado, so the school district stands to lose millions over the long run if that metric is eliminated.

While exact dollar amounts are still being hammered out, Parker said the school board would likely come back to voters in two years to raise additional property taxes to make up for the loss funds if cost of living is eliminated from the state formula…

[Commissioner Rachel] Richards suggested to school board members that “maybe you could be neutral” on the tax increase.

Considering Aspen’s county — Pitkin — was one of only three out of 64 counties to support Prop 103 in 2011, this is not a good sign for tax hike proponents.

Someone tell Curtis Hubbard he’s got some calls to make.


DOUBLE OR NOTHING: 2013′s Tax Increase Asks For Twice As Much As Failed 2011 Effort

When voters read the blue book explaining the ballot initiatives this November it’s safe to assume they won’t all be engrossed to the end. In all likelihood most probably won’t read past the first sentence. After all, the Pew Center on the States found it takes a PhD level education to fully grasp the language.

All of which is to say the billion dollar tax increase is screwed.

To understand why, you simply have to look at the language voters will be reading when they receive their ballots.

Here’s the language voters saw about Prop 103 in 2011, which lost 63-37:

And, per Floyd Ciruli, here is the language that voters will see on their ballot this year:

It’s all really simple. If voters rejected an annual income tax increase of $536.1 million by a substantial 2-1 margin only two years ago, who in their right mind expects voters to pass double that amount?


HICK HAILS BACK ROOM DEALS: Governor Blasts Transparency In Government At NGA Conference

Hick prefers only ribbon cuttings and bill signings be made public

In what may be the 2014 version of Mitt Romney’s 47% comments, Governor Hickenlooper recently said that he believes politicians should be able to operate through back room deals away from the glare of public scrutiny.

Hickenlooper’s remarks to Time Magazine underscore his entire leadership style — unwilling to take clear and decisive positions, the governor believes he should be able to keep his positions on public policy private as much as possible.

Reports Time’s Zeke Miller:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a potential 2016 democratic candidate for president, has a creative — and controversial — idea for ending Washington, D.C.’s partisan gridlock: start legislating from behind closed doors and bring back the earmark.

After decades of fights for transparency in government, Hickenlooper told TIME that those well-intended initiatives are making government and lawmakers less effective. “We elect these people to make these difficult decisions, but now they are in the full light of video every time they make a decision,” Hickenlooper said at the National Governors Association meeting in Milwaukee, Wis. on Friday. “We elected these people, let them go back into a room like they always did.”

The article was first picked up by KDVR’s Eli Stokols, and the right has quickly piled on.



BIPARTISAN OPPOSITION: Coalition Fighting The Billion Dollar Tax Hike Launches

At a press conference yesterday, the bipartisan coalition opposing the billion dollar tax hike launched.

Led by former Democratic State Senator Bob Hagedorn, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton, and education reform activist Karin Piper, Coloradans for Real Education Reform (CRER) is the official “No” issue committee for the ballot measure.

Check out their website here.

Reports The Colorado Observer‘s Leslie Jorgensen:

Coloradans for Real Education Reform officially launched their “No on Initiative 22” to fight the tax hike which the opponents assert is a bad investment that falls short of reform.

“With no safeguards in place to keep this money in the classroom, this is a bad investment,” said Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

“This bipartisan effort centers on the fact we recognize the need for real education reform,” said former Sen. Bob Hagedorn (D-Aurora). “One of the best drivers for improving student achievement is providing broad school choice opportunities, something sorely lacking in Senate Bill 213.”

Whereas the vote on the spending bill attached to the tax hike, SB213, found only party line support among Democrats, the opposition campaign is being spearheaded by a bipartisan coalition of elected leaders.

Former Senator Bob Hagedorn’s opposition is no small deal either. As the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Megan Schrader reported:

“For the first time in my life, I’m opposing a school tax initiative,” said former state lawmaker Bob Hagedorn, a Democrat who focused on education issues while in office.

Hagedorn said he would like to see more emphasis on providing school choice to parents and funding charter schools at an equal level.

“Senate Bill 213 is a lost opportunity the legislators had,” Hagedorn said.

Supporters of the billion dollar tax increase keep pointing to Ref C as proof that a tax measure can succeed. Unfortunately for them, unlike Ref C, the notable bipartisanship is occurring in opposition to the measure, rather than in support.


DENIED: Tax Hike Campaign Fails At Attempt To Low Ball Cost

The campaign committee to raise taxes by a billion dollars a year, Colorado Commits to Kids, is learning an early lesson in arithmetic.

After feeding the press low-balled figures on how much the tax hike will cost individual taxpayers, their fuzzy math is catching up to them.

Vic Vela from Our Colorado News nailed them on it today:

Initiative 22 would raise taxes on all Colorado taxpayers. The two-tiered proposal would raise income taxes to 5 percent on incomes up to $75,000. Incomes over that amount would be taxed at a rate of 5.9 percent. Colorado’s current income tax rate is a flat 4.63 percent, regardless of income level.

Putting that into perspective, the Colorado Commits to Kids campaign — the group behind the initiative — says that Coloradans with incomes of $30,000 would pay less than $1 a week more in taxes, or about $50 a year. A person making $150,000 would pay a little over $14 a week more in taxes, or $731 a year.

However, opponents correctly point out that those numbers are not based on adjusted gross income, which would mean those with a taxable income of $30,000 would pay an additional $111 a year, while those with taxable incomes of $150,000 would pay an extra $1,230 a year.

Our liberal friends at ColoradoPols today published a table provided by the tax hike campaign claiming the false figures for the billion dollar bill.

Thankfully, the media ain’t buying it. Brandon Rittiman of 9News broke down what the tax hike will mean for Coloradans’ income tax bills.



CALLING BULLSH*T: Hickenlooper’s Historical Fiction On How He Decided To Back The Billion Dollar Tax Hike

In an attempt at badly crafted historical fiction, Governor Hickenlooper told The Denver Post last week that he decided to support the billion dollar tax increase in the middle of the very closed door meeting from where his position leaked.

From a Denver Post article highlighted in a Compass Colorado press release today:

Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 213, a school finance overhaul, into law in May, but his support of the tax that would fund it was not clear until last week when members of the Colorado Forum, a group of business and civic leaders, shared comments he made to the group with the media…

Hickenlooper said he gathered his thoughts on the proposed ballot measure for the first time last week when he met with the Colorado Forum. [Peak emphasis]

You see, it wasn’t that Hickenlooper was refusing to take a position and had his hand forced by the leaks. It’s that Hickenlooper just decided right then to back a billion dollar tax increase. 

Or as Iceman once coughed:



“RECORD-LEVEL INCOME TAX INCREASE”: Former Democratic Party Chairman Predicts Hick To Take Big Hit On Tax Hike

Floyd Ciruli, the former Colorado Democratic Party chair and pollster, says Governor Hickenlooper’s recent support of Initiative 22 – a “record-level income tax increase” – serves to “reinforc[e] an image of a tax favoring governor of the liberal state of Colorado.”

The political damage that Ciruli writes of could be a major reason for Hick’s soft launch of his tax hike position, whispered about to CEOs behind closed doors.  It also adds to a damaging narrative, Ciruli says, already frustrated by other far left positions, or in the case of Nathan Dunlap, indecisions. 

From Hick’s “convoluted death penalty decision” to his “failure to issue a single veto” against the left-wing legislature, Ciruli lists many reason for our state’s chief executive to be worried.

2014 could end up being a great year for Colorado Republicans, after all:

Early candidates are coming up with good lines. Brophy said he’s pro-life for the unborn and Hickenlooper is pro-life for mass murderers. George Brauchler, Arapahoe DA, said Hickenlooper was elected the state’s governor not the state’s bartender. Brauchler is interesting because he engages Hickenlooper on a serious weakness, crime and he has a base in the metro area’s top swing county…

Hickenlooper has to be somewhat worried that President Obama’s sagging approval could be a weight on the party and turnout will be back to the off-year the 1.7 million, down from 2.4 million presidential level. Hickenlooper only won by 51 percent in 2010 against weak opponents, although in a hellacious year for Democrats.

More specifically, Hickenlooper is dealing with his own convoluted death penalty decision and his failure to issue a single veto against the Republican-described out-of-control Denver/Boulder dominated left wing legislature.

Democrats’ total control of the legislature was assumed to be a burden for Hickenlooper in 2012 post-election commentary. It was, and unfortunately for the Democrats, the problem lives on in two recalls of senior legislators and a revolt among rural public officials. In addition, the Governor has committed to the party, the K-12 public education establishment and the progressive business community that he will actively campaign for a record-level income tax increase for education, reinforcing an image of the tax favoring governor of the liberal state of Colorado.

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