The Denver Business Journal cheered that Colorado made the top 15 in this year’s Small Business Policy Index, which rates the small businesses climates across all fifty states. Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter pointed to the ranking on his Facebook page. Colorado’s #14 ranking is well and good, but they all missed the real story – Colorado dropped five slots from last year’s survey.
The very first paragraph of the 2012 report summed pretty much summed up Colorado’s problem, and why we can expect to slip further in the rankings if next year plays out in much the same way that 2013 did: “It’s a straightforward fact of economic life. That is, tax, regulatory, spending and other assorted policies created and instituted by elected officials affect the economy…”
While Governor Hickenlooper and his allies in the legislature talk a big game when it comes to supporting business, their actions entail one impediment to business after another. The very first measure in the SBE survey looks at the state personal income tax, as high personal income tax “increases the costs of working, saving, investing, and risk taking.” It does not get much simpler than that. If Hickenlooper had his way, Amendment 66 would have dropped the state from a respectable 17th place in this category to 28th. Another 1.1 percent higher would have put us in the highest quartile of top marginal state income tax rates in the country.
Under Governor Hickenlooper and his anti-business enablers in the state legislature, Colorado has created a regulatory environment that is hostile to our oil and gas industry, an industry that is positioned unlike any other to drive growth in job creation, investment, and profits in our state.
While Hickenlooper and the Democrats waste their breath and our resources promoting pie-in-the-sky ideas such as “regional collaboration,” “communication with small business,” and “labor force development,” they ignore what really moves the needle: tax and regulatory relief. They simply are not willing to do what it takes because taxes and regulations form the cornerstone of their approach to governance.