A benefit of the short legislative session for weaselly legislators is that they can avoid taking positions on anything that might be controversial after the second week in May. There are no floor amendments or committee votes held forcing them to pick a side of an issue. They can just ignore everything until the start of the next session in January.
Sick of the tax hike timidness among legislators, the state House and Senate Republicans sent a letter to the highest ranking Democrats in the House and Senate, as well as Governor Hickenlooper, asking them to join the GOP in opposing the proposed $3 Billion tax increase known as Prop 103.
From the letter to Brandon Shaffer, Sal Pace and John Hickenlooper:
Political leaders in Washington, D.C. have spent the better part of the year quarreling about how to break the grip of a staggering unemployment crisis. As Washington bickers, we can demonstrate broad bipartisanship around a critical organizing principle – that the unemployment crisis is the wrong time for statewide income tax and sales tax increases.
While the voters will ultimately decide the fate of Proposition 103, those same voters have an unmistakable right to know whether the elected leaders they have entrusted with the reins of power believe this ballot measure is the right economic prescription for the state. We unanimously believe that Proposition 103 is not. [Peak emphasis]
Asked if the governor would respond, press secretary Eric Brown responded, “No. The governor’s position on 103 is well known.” That position is that the governor isn’t taking a position…
Heck, at least the Guv has admitted he has no guts. While's he talked about the admiration he has for Denver's political Godfather, Paul Sandoval, for his willingness to pick a side and fight, Hickenlooper is clear he prefers not to muddy his reputation as a middle ground manager who always picks the popular position. Governor No Position is his preferred M.O. nowadays.
As for state Senate President Brandon Shaffer and state House Minority Leader Sal "Pissboy" Pace — we haven't heard a peep from them. They've been too busy shaking down donors for dollars for their Congressional campaigns to bother being involved in an issue that affects their current jobs. This letter is a rude awakening that they still have day jobs for which taxpayers are paying their salary and that requires taking a position on the only statewide initiative in 2011.
You can be sure Pace and Shaffer will take to the House and Senate floors next session decrying necessary cuts to the K-12 budget, which eats up about half of the General Fund each year. Their political grandstanding will ring especially hollow, even to liberals, if they don't take a position on an initiative that would directly affect education funding.
As the letter went on:
Tough times like these represent the moment when political leadership is at its highest premium. Voters deserve leadership on an issue as weighty as Proposition 103.
As Pace and Shaffer are seeking access to more responsibility and leadership with jobs representing Colorado in Congress, they might want to demonstrate leadership at home first.
To put it into terms they might better understand — if Prop 103 were a bill on the floor of Congress, how would they vote? What will they tell the teacher's union, who just gave Prop 103 $50,000, when they come calling for campaign donations? When it was time to pick a side in the policy debate of 2011, where were they?
You can read the full letter here.