But, in typical Hickenlooper fashion, he didn’t have the guts to just come out and say it. Instead he whispered it to a room of CEOs, forcing KDVR’s Eli Stokols to confirm the position of Colorado’s chief executive on the state’s bottom line via text message.
On Wednesday morning, speaking to a breakfast meeting of the Colorado Forum, a group of business leaders, Hickenlooper did what he’s been unable or unwilling to do when pressed by reporters on the looming ballot initiative that will ask voters to approve a two-tiered income tax hike this fall to generate $950 million for Colorado schools.
He came out with a clear position — in support of Initiative 22, which was just announced last month.
“The governor has been talking to business leaders about how transformative the new school finance law will be for Colorado kids,” said Alan Salazar, Hickenlooper’s chief strategist, in a text message to FOX31 confirming accounts from other sources who heard Hickenlooper’s remarks Wednesday.
Salazar called Hickenlooper’s support for the proposal, however tacit, “probably the worst kept secret in town.”
Worst kept secret? Why then was the president of the largest teachers union in the state, which has donated $250,000 already to the initiative, on Twitter asking where Hickenlooper was on the issue?
Of course, Hickenlooper was going to be forced to come out for the tax hike at some point, as he signed the bill that spent the money the tax hike will raise. Even for a contortionist like Hickenlooper, it would be too hard a sell to oppose money he’s already agreed to spend.
What’s notable here isn’t Hickenlooper’s support of the tax hike, which is politically tone deaf in its own right, but how his support became public.
It is likely to only feed the narrative that Hickenlooper isn’t capable of making tough decisions. But unlike Dunlap, Hickenlooper doesn’t get to grant himself a reprieve from leadership.
UPDATE: The AP’s Kristen Wyatt weighs in on Team Hick’s defense of his private announcement of supporting a billion dollar tax increase on the public:
Hick supporter to DP: “This is not just saying privately, ‘I like this’ …” Um, no. THAT LITERALLY IS JUST SAYING IT PRIVATELY.
— Kristen Wyatt (@APkristenwyatt) July 10, 2013
UPDATE 2: Revealing Politics has a video, of sorts, of Hickenlooper announcing his support for the billion dollar tax increase: