At Governor Hickenlooper's first Education Council meeting yesterday, Ed News Colorado reports some interesting exchanges took place over state Senator Rollie Heath's (D-Boulder) $3 Billion tax increase known as Prop 103. While other members of the council pussyfooted around talking directly about the administrations' position on the ballot initiative, Hickenlooper took on the role of pundit-in-chief and declared the reality is Prop 103 is "probably" going to fail. But, as Lt. Gov Garcia sheepishly put it, that shouldn't stop folks from campaigning for it indirectly.

In discussing likely education funding for next year's budget, Hick dismissed the chances of more coming in, telling his council they need to make do with what they have:

Hickenlooper first raised the subject, saying, “We’re going to have to face the reality that we’re probably not going to have more resources than we did” during the 2011 legislative session. {Peak emphasis}

That sure sounds like Hick doesn't have much faith in the persuasive powers of Montgomery Burns, we mean Rollie Heath. Considering the PR nightmare that Prop 103 has been so far with kidnapped classes of 4th grade children, propaganda mailed illegally at taxpayers' expense, and petition circulators caught-on-tape lying about the initiative, who can blame Hick for acknowledging how little chance it has to succeed with such an amateur team backing it.

That political reality has hit head on with Hickenlooper's own base on the Left who are dying to get this passed, making Hick's non-support particularly awkward.

In highlighting the awkward dance Hick has had with the proposed tax increase, Lt. Gov Garcia made clear the administration doesn't have the guts to come out with a clear position:

Garcia then turned to Proposition 103, the ballot measure that would raise state income and sales taxes for five years to raise some $3 billion for schools and colleges.

While noting that Hickenlooper has pledged not to seek new revenue during his first year in office, Garcia acknowledged that 103 “is about the only short-term solution out there.”

Significantly, he said, “We certainly are not going to do anything to get in the way of that effort.”  

But, Garcia said, “Whatever happens … we can’t allow the state’s budget problems to serve as an excuse” for not seeking ways to improve education.  

Later in the meeting, Garcia returned to the subject, saying, “I would encourage people to talk about what Proposition 103 might do for the state,” then adding, “That’s all I should say about it.” [Peak emphasis]

The mixed messages Hick and his administration have been sending on Prop 103 have begun to wear on his appointees, with two council members expressing frustration at the meeting with Hick's inability to pick a side.

From the Ed News write up it's clear what Hick's dilemma is, and it's not one of philosophical beliefs or policy positions, but rather political expediency. Hick only likes to back winning and popular ideas and initiatives. Getting it right politically is part and parcel of Hick's political persona and he can't afford to back a losing cause. He is also facing enormous pressure from the Left to get in line behind their tax hike, as his non-support is sending a clear message to the electorate that it's not the right move.

The Guv won't be able to keep up this charade forever. Even The Denver Post and members of his own Education Council are joining the chorus of people sick of his tax hike timidness. Hickenlooper wasn't elected to become the state's top talking head after all, but to make the tough decisions as its CEO.

Hick may continue to talk about the lack of "appetite" among the electorate for a tax increase, or that Prop 103 will "probably" fail, but at this point voters want to know: what is Hick's appetite for a tax increase? How is he going to vote in November?