At this hour, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis is in Pueblo to make a speech about what he considers to be job-killing tax increases on candy and other items that were passed by the Colorado senate on Wednesday. And according to McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy, he thinks he might have been able to smother the measures in their cradle if Denver mayor John Hickenlooper would have joined him in denouncing them.
"It was a sincere offer," Duffy insists. "It wasn't meant as a gotcha."
According to Duffy, McInnis's invitation to Hickenlooper was made two weeks ago.
"It was a lunch for the governor of Indiana, and a lot of the business community was there," he says. "The mayor came in unexpectedly, and we had literally just been talking about the impact of these tax increases; some members of the House were there, too. And Scott and the mayor have a friendly relationship, so Scott says to him, 'We don't need another lunch. Let's go to the Capitol right now and kill these things, or try to.' And the mayor declined the opportunity."
At this point, Duffy maintains that he's uncertain where Hickenlooper stands on the tax matters, which their Democratic sponsors call eliminations of tax exemptions, not tax increases. Hickenlooper "has said he's uncertain about some of them," he allows.
As for McInnis, his opposition is total, as he'll make clear during his Pueblo appearance. "He's going to be at a business called Summit Brick and Tile Company, one of the businesses that's going to be specifically hurt by this tax increase," Duffy says. "Their CEO says it will cost them about $100,000 annually. And the steel mill down there, the Rocky Mountain Steel mill -- this has been written about pretty broadly in Pueblo, but the owner says it's going to cost them about $2 million annually, and that will cost jobs.
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"Scott really wants to highlight that this is a bad idea anytime -- raising taxes and costing jobs. But it's particularly bad in tough times. This is a tough economy, and that means it's tougher for people who are out of work to find new jobs."
As for what McInnis suggests to solve the horrific revenue shortfalls, Duffy says he sees some merit in state senator Josh Penry's suggestion of cuts to the state's payroll. Commentators like the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover suggest that the Republicans' numbers don't add up, but Duffy doesn't go there when asked if McInnis backs the plan.
"He sees what the Republican leadership has offered as good ideas and a good approach," he allows. "In fact, he's said that if we had done across-the-board cuts a few years ago, it might have eased the pain we're going through now. He's repeatedly said that we're going to need a much smaller government because revenues aren't going to rebound anytime soon enough to offset spending."
If Hickenlooper would like to echo these words, McInnis would undoubtedly invite him to do so. But here's guessing he won't.