When the annual CNBC rankings of “America’s Top States for Business” was released last week, the consequences of anti-growth policies embraced by Governor Hickenlooper and the Democrat legislature became manifest again.
Unfortunately, Colorado slipped significantly in both business friendliness and access to capital, two closely linked metrics and two areas that were in the crosshairs of the Democrats legislative agenda this year.
We have written at length about the deep bench of anti-business Democrat lawmakers in the past. The problem that we face now is back-to-back legislative sessions with Democrats in charge, backed by an increasingly out of touch Governor who shares their view on these issues. The damage that they will inflict on the state’s going to be slow and incremental, but we are going to see more and more indicators, such as this CNBC survey, that will slowly document Colorado’s decline.
It is no surprise that given the actions taken in the legislature this year, this state will attract less capital. The oil and gas industry, perhaps this state’s most robust area for growth going forward, seemed to be public enemy number one in the eyes of the Democratic party. Why would companies go out of their way to invest in what is becoming a more hostile regulatory environment? The uncertainty around this policy is very detrimental to a strong oil and gas industry in Colorado (it has not escaped many that this may be the Democrats’ intent).
The tax increases are just as damaging. If you want to constrain capital formation, it’s pretty easy: just tax it. Why discourage our states job creators with higher taxes at every turn? With Hickenlooper recently signing a petition to add a $1 billion income tax hike to the ballot, and allowing himself to be photographed celebrating this Kodak moment, it appears that they are becoming more emboldened by their recent legislative successes.
This CNBC survey is a canary in the coal mine. With the state’s natural resources, educated workforce, and attractive recreation destinations, we should be going nowhere but up. Our middle class and business community deserve more than the constant headwinds that Hickenlooper and the Democrats are creating.