The Denver Post recently sent out its candidate questionnaire for its Voter Guide. While we’re glad the Post is trying to vet candidates, the topics of questions seemed a little, well, questionable. Of the 21 questions asked by the Denver Post, three dealt with abortion/reproductive issues and two dealt with gay marriage. That basically translates to nearly 25% of the questions relating to social issues. If one counts marijuana as a social issue, that amounts to 30% of the questions. Really? What’s with the obsession with social issues, guys?
Importantly, there was not a single question about education, unless you count the question about the DREAM Act and related local legislation. Perhaps, the Denver Post is familiar with the challenges faced by the City of Chicago’s striking teachers, or the negotiations between the Douglas County School Board and the teachers unions? The Post fortunately asks about government accountability, but what about accountability in our classrooms to the next generation of Colorado’s leaders?
Further, as if the questions weren’t topically skewed, the way in which they’re written leaves no question about the way the author of this questionnaire leans. In the spirit of offering an alternate viewpoint, we’ve offered rewrites for some of the questions below.
The state’s sales tax is now at 2.9 percent after being cut from 3 percent by lawmakers in 1999. Meanwhile, the state’s income tax was at 5 percent in 1999 but has since been cut to 4.63 percent by lawmakers. Are there conditions under which you would support asking voters to raise sales and income taxes back up to their 1999 levels? If so, describe them.
Peak: Would you burden already struggling families with additional taxes to pay for wasteful government spending? (For example, see Evie Hudak’s lavish trips)
Support or oppose: A major criticism of the Senior Homestead Exemption program is that it gives a property tax break to qualifying seniors, regardless of their wealth. Would you support a means test for the Senior Homestead Exemption?
Peak: Would you burden seniors on fixed incomes with additional property taxes to pay for wasteful government spending?
Support or oppose: Would you support a law requiring online retailers to charge sales tax?
Peak: Would you support crushing small businesses based in Colorado affiliated with Amazon.com in order to raise additional sales tax revenue to pay for wasteful government spending? (P.S., in 2010, the Denver Post reported that Amazon.com dropped nearly 4,200 local small businesses from its affiliate program, with Amazon blaming “state lawmakers for enacting a law requiring it to notify those who purchase Amazon merchandise through a local web site that they owe sales taxes.”)
Support or oppose: Would you support statewide rules that increase setbacks for oil and gas drilling near residential areas?
Peak: Do you support the unnecessary government red tape, environmentalist lawsuits and additional costs that oil and gas companies must incur when pursuing natural resources on public lands?
Peak’s Alternate Question 1: Do you think wasting taxpayers hard-earned dollars by giving subsidies to legislators’ top donors’ “new energy” companies that don’t have a popsicle’s chance in hell of being profitable without these massive subsidies is a responsible use of funds?
Peak’s Alternate Question 2: Do you think achieving energy independence, particularly after the slaying of our Ambassador to Libya and the related anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East, should be a top priority? What’s the best way to achieve energy independence?
Finally, we propose that the Denver Post consider adding the following questions to its questionnaire:
1) Many of our state’s schools have abysmally low graduation rates, particularly among minorities. What is the best way to ensure that our children are given every opportunity to succeed through an education?
2) Colorado’s unemployment remains stubbornly high and, currently, resides above 8%. What is your suggestion for putting Coloradans back to work?
3) Colorado is home to many entrepreneurs. What’s the best way to support entrepreneurism (and thus, grow our economy)?
4) Over the past few years, several large employers have left Colorado (e.g., Qwest, First Data, and Frontier). How can Colorado attract top businesses to the region?
5) What are some of the ways in which you’d rein in government spending to ensure the government is a good steward of taxpayer dollars?
Call us crazy, but we’d start with those questions first. In fact, a Pew Research study out today highlighted by PBS found that, among young voters (aged 18-35), education and the economy were paramount this election cycle. Where are the questions on those topics? Further, a Gallup Poll published at the end of July found that the top issues for the next president to address were creating good jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and reducing the federal budget deficit. See chart below.
Can the Denver Post really afford to be so out of touch with voters and the general population? Given recent cutbacks in the newsroom, we think not. Come on, guys, you know this election is about the economy.