Several Likely 2014 Candidates Have Yet to File

Where’s that coin that I flipped?

We've long passed the Q1 fundraising period for 2014, and while it is still early, there are quite a few candidates who have yet to even file an official candidate affidavit to run for office next year.

Of course, there are several reasons why you might wait to mail that piece of paper. Republican Rep. Mark Waller, for example, is widely believed to be planning a run for Attorney General, but there's no benefit to filing a candidate affidavit at least until the end of the legislative session.

The other thing to remember is that candidates for state office must file a personal financial disclosure form within 10 days of submitting their official candidate affidavit; some candidates may not have that information together yet, or may not be ready to disclose their recent finances. For someone like Gov. John Hickenlooper, who separated from his wife since last filing a candidate affidavit in 2010, this process could be significantly more complicated. 

(more…)

Back in Colorado, Betsy Markey Being Recruited for Treasurer

Betsy MarkeyFormer Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey is back in Colorado after spending the last two years working in the Obama administration, and she's already being heavily recruited by Democrats to run for State Treasurer in 2014.

Markey is the first Democratic name we've heard as a potential opponent for Republican Treasurer Walker Stapleton; until now, there hadn't been so much as a rumor of a potential Democratic candidate. Stapleton did upset Democratic incumbent Cary Kennedy in 2010 and would be a tough opponent, but the lack of interest from Democrats to this point has had more to do with low interest in the job, rather than concern over Stapleton's political skill. Markey is the kind of experienced, charismatic candidate that would be a stark contrast to the soft-spoken Stapleton, and her name ID would also help overcome one of Stapleton's innate advantages. Markey has only been back in Ft. Collins for a few weeks, but Democrats have been encouraging her to make a run for the job since the Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in early March. She has not yet indicated whether she wants to jump in the race.

Markey served one term in Congress after an upset win over Republican Marilyn Musgrave in 2008. She lost her bid for re-election to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner in the 2010 Tea Party wave year. Markey stayed in Washington D.C. during the last two years after being named Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Relations under Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Markey left that position in January to return to Colorado and focus more on Syscom Services, an IT consulting firm that she co-founded in the late 1980s.

As you've probably noticed, we've had some trouble with The Big Line since our move to a new platform. Markey will likely be on the Line as soon as we unkink things.

How would Stapleton pay for road and bridge upgrades?

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



During an interview on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado yesterday, Colorado State  Treasurer Walker Stapleton came out in support of a lawsuit alleging that the 2009 FASTER law, which raised Colorado vehicle registration fees to pay for road and bridge upgrades, is unconstitutional.

Here’s the key exchange on the radio show:

WALKER STAPLETON:  Well, you know, my friend Rich Sokel is at the tip of the spear, there. And I think it’s a great thing.  And I hope they prevail because, you know, the FASTER tax was one of many taxes and fees that was passed without our input as voters in Colorado.  And it was passed and given cover by a liberal activist Supreme Court.  And so I hope that it gets some traction, because these fees need to be called what they are, and that’s tax increases.

Host: Absolutely.  So I’m going to wish them luck on that and we’re going to do everything we can to support those guys and their efforts.  Walker Stapleton, Colorado state—

STAPLETON:  Thank you, guys!  I appreciate you!

HOST: We appreciate you and everything you’re doing and you know you’ve got a friendly voice here, so use us whenever we can and we’ll help you fight this battle.  That’s Walker Stapleton, Colorado State Treasurer.

Listen to Walker Stapleton on KLZ 6-7-12

It’s painful to hear a public official, who claims to be the standard bearer for fiscal responsibility, support striking down the FASTER law without explaining how he’d fund road and bridge repair in the state. And this is of course not the first time Republicans have exhibited this problem.

So, please, all you entertaining people over at KLZ, put this question to Stapleton when you have him back on Grassroots Radio Colorado: Does he 1) want to fix Colorado’s crumbling roads and bridges, and, if so 2) how he does he propose to pay for it ($300 million in bonds issued and $400 million to be issued in 2017).

At Least She’s Not Your State Supreme Court Justice (And Family!)

(Walker Stapleton, eat your heart out – promoted by Colorado Pols)



From the Pittsbugh Post-Gazette

State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin surrendered to authorities this afternoon to face nine criminal counts pertaining to her alleged use of state resources for campaign purposes. [...] Justice Melvin was identified as a target of the grand jury in December. The charges include three counts of theft of services, two counts of criminal conspiracy to commit tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, two counts of official oppression and one count each of criminal conspiracy to commit theft of services and misapplication of entrusted property of government.

“It now appears that not only was Justice Orie Melvin directly and knowingly involved in using state paid staffers from both the judicial and legislative branches of the Pennsylvania government in her political campaign activities, but it also appears that she was aided in those endeavors by two accomplices, co-conspirator and siblings — Janine Mary Orie and [State Sen.] Jane Clare Orie,” according to the presentment.

Her sister, State Senator Jane Orie, was convicted in March on 14 counts for her own misuse of state resources (and apparently the cover-up that followed).

A new mission for Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton.

A District Court Judge recently ruled against Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s efforts to seek information regarding Colorado PERA’s top benefit recipients.

See: http://www.copera.org/pera/​ab…

However, this adverse court ruling need not spell the end to Stapleton’s campaign to draw attention to lofty pension benefits.

He need merely shift his focus from public sector retirement benefits to the private sector, that is, top pension benefit recipients in the private sector.

Treasurer Stapleton may find inspiration for this new mission in the work of California Senator Mark Leno and Leno’s recently introduced legislation in California.

“Leno’s first-in-the-nation bill would require publicly traded corporations to report the amount of money their top five highest-paid executives receive in retirement.”

“It’s time to shed some light onto how company executives enrich themselves by millions of dollars each year while eliminating pensions for the lower earning workers they have sworn to protect,” said Leno, who represents Marin in the state Senate.

The article:

http://novato.patch.com/​artic…

I suggest that the Treasurer kick off his new mission by perusing the book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, by Ellen Schultz, award-winning Wall Street Journal investigative reporter. A taste of the book:

“As far as I can determine there is only one solution [to the CEO's demand to save more money], the HR representative wrote to her superiors. That would be the death of all existing retirees.”

(Note to Colorado PERA Board of Trustees, this quoted comment was made tongue-in-cheek and should not be considered a viable board policy option.)

Walker it’s time you took the good pension fight to the private sector! Get-R-Done!

P.S., Friend Save Pera Cola on Facebook, Visit saveperacola.com, Support the Colorado pension theft lawsuit!

Sucks To Be Stapleton’s Staffer

UPDATE: It’s been privately suggested to us that jokes about persons associated with Treasurer Walker Stapleton going “under the wheels” may be unintentionally caustic. Sorry about that.

—–

That’s the conclusion we draw from an amusing story in today’s Denver paper by reporter Lynn Bartels. Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s new assistant, identified only as a 22-year-old female, sent out emails from her official Colorado state email account offering Stapleton’s “help” to Republican state legislators.

Word of this inappropriate solicitation came when the email in question was accidentally sent to Rep. Daniel Kagan, a Democrat. Had it not, it’s entirely possible this would never have been publicized.

We recall the recent kerfluffle over an aside mention of congressional candidate Joe Miklosi’s run in a Colorado House Democrats press release. That misstep probably rates a mention along with this one, but we’re a bit curious about Stapleton’s claim she is “allowed to do political stuff, but not on state time.”

Considering how easily she went under the bus here, we hope she gets paid for that time too.

Walker Stapleton, Gamblin’ Man

A fascinating exchange picked up Friday by the Colorado Independent, we didn’t want to miss:

Over the course of his first year in office, Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton has targeted the state’s public-employee pension plan, known as PERA, underlining its billions of dollars in liabilities and arguing that it should be reworked to reduce the state’s obligations in part by giving over money to contributors to invest themselves. He brought his case to the state’s House Finance Committee on Thursday and predictably ran up against deep Democratic skepticism…

Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Englewood) lead the opposition to the bill and went back and forth with Stapleton during the hearing.

“Would you like to see us offer a choice even if we knew that it would increase the unfunded liabilities of PERA?” asked Kagan.

“Sure,” Stapleton said, adding that having to reduce PERA’s solvency is “not a happy consequence” of the proposed policy change but worth it if it meant more members of the retirement plan would win the choice to “determine their own retirement futures.” [Pols emphasis]

Kagan suggested Stapleton was putting economic ideology over the obligation of his office.

“I am shocked that you as the treasurer of the state of Colorado would say, as you just said, that to you the concept of giving the consumer choice is more important than making sure that PERA is fully funded.”

This statement from Treasurer Walker Stapleton came during a debate in the House Finance Committee over House Bill 12-1142, which would have opened up the choice to PERA beneficiaries to invest in a “defined contribution” plan, more like the private sector’s 401(k) plans than the “defined benefit” pension plan many public employees (and in many cases, your parents and grandparents in the private sector) enjoyed. While there is possible benefit to taking control of one’s own retirement investments, the recent recession’s wiping out of market equity, including the 401(k) savings of millions of Americans, vividly illustrates the risk.

Since most retirement plans offered by the private sector have ditched defined benefits in favor of 401(k) plans, in a way PERA reminds private sector employees what they’ve lost. The real worry, of course, is that the “choice” is a slippery slope to no choice. The move from defined benefit to defined contribution plans means, by nature, the shifting of risk from guarantors of benefits to individual investment choices. Some will thrive, others will eat cat food.

No matter though, risk is not a problem for Colorado’s chief financial officer! Stapleton would rather see risk, to individual retirees or even increased liability for the state as a whole, than protect the current system. Because providing choice to employees to “determine their own futures” matters more than anything–including either retirees’ or the state’s solvency!

We honestly didn’t realize Stapleton was such an ideologue about this stuff.

“Political Issues” Costing CO Taxpayers $165k Daily

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)



POLS UPDATE: Full release from Colorado House Democrats after the jump:

“The House Republicans are always talking about respecting taxpayers,” Rep. Pabon said. “I’ve asked the Republican leadership more than once to move this bill. It’s simply absurd to let it just sit there, when everyone knows it’s costing our local governments tens of thousands of dollars every day.”

—–

Good reporting by The Paper That Shall Not Be Named, which reports today that “Political Issues” are causing a hold-up in the state House that is costing taxpayers nearly $165,000 daily.

The held up bill is House Bill 1005, a bill to loosen the investment terms for local and county governments.  Colorado it seems is the only state in the nation that requires its municipal governments to invest in nothing with fewer than 2 triple-A ratings.  But since Republicans staged their brinksmanship last year, U.S. government-backed securities no longer hold that rating, and so money that could be invested for a period of time is now essentially sitting under the county mattress.

As you might guess, this critical adjustment has bipartisan support, including that of Treasurer Walker Stapleton.  The bill passed out of the House Finance Committee on a unanimous vote back on Groundhog Day, but it has been stuck ever since.

House sponsor Rep. Pabon (D-Denver) asked the Republican leadership what was holding up the bill, he was told “there were political issues that had to do with supporters of the bill”, with no further explanation.  What exactly those issues are, no-one is willing to say, but House Speaker Frank McNulty is apparently among the obstructors; his spokesman is quoted as saying simply: “Different bills move at different paces.”

(h/t to RSB’s ghost)

The Clock Is Ticking

Pabon’s Bill Saves Colorado Taxpayers $164,383 a Day, But GOP Isn’t Acting on It

Feb 29, 2012

(Denver) – Despite broad bipartisan support and the fact that it saves taxpayers more than $164,000 a day, a bill changing how Colorado counties and cities can invest their savings languishes on the House calendar because the Republican leadership refuses to bring it to a floor vote. HB12-1005, sponsored by Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) and Sen. Ted Harvey (R-Highlands Ranch), would allow counties to invest public funds in securities that have less than two triple-A ratings.  Without that flexibility, counties and local governments are forced to put their public funds in accounts with a lower interest rate. Their hands are tied, and Colorado taxpayers are footing the bill.

GOP dithering is costing Colorado taxpayers $164,383 a day, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Colorado County Treasurers Association cited today in an article by Tim Hoover in The Denver Post.  

“The House Republicans are always talking about respecting taxpayers,” Rep. Pabon said. “I’ve asked the Republican leadership more than once to move this bill. It’s simply absurd to let it just sit there, when everyone knows it’s costing our local governments tens of thousands of dollars every day.”  

The bill was approved unanimously by the House Finance Committee on Feb. 2. It has sat on the calendar for four weeks. The Republicans’ 33-32 majority in the House means they alone control which bills are scheduled for committee or floor debate.  

“It’s unbelievable how the political games that are being played around here are hurting the people of Colorado and costing taxpayers money,” said Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver), the House Democratic leader. “I hate to sound like a broken record, but the GOP leadership needs to put Coloradans first.”

Gessler, Stapleton Get Publicly Surly With Hickenlooper

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports:

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Secretary of State Scott Gessler berated Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper for refusing to take controversial positions when the two Republicans spoke on Monday before a conservative audience in Lakewood…

Asked by an audience member to describe their relationships with Hickenlooper, Stapleton and Gessler said they were frustrated with the governor’s ability to maintain stratospheric approval ratings while he avoids wading into potentially divisive fights.

“It’s dawned on me, after spending my entire life in the private sector, that politics is a strange business,” said Stapleton, cracking a bemused smile. The reason, Stapleton said, is that “the less you do, the more popular you are. Think about how backwards that is.”

It’s not like other professions, Stapleton continued, where more ambition and accomplishments usually lead to higher stature. “In politics, as long as you can sit comfortably on the sidelines when it comes to controversial issues, you’re popular. And we have a governor who’s incredibly adept at sitting on the sidelines on consequential issues facing our state.” [Pols emphasis]

Ouch! So much for executive branch comity, we guess.

That said, we do expect a mix of reactions to this story, so far as we know the most explicit criticism of Gov. John Hickenlooper offered by either Treasurer Walker Stapleton or Secretary of State Scott Gessler to date. You could argue that Stapleton and Gessler’s relative “activism” has been the real failure–Gessler has tripped almost every voting rights alarm there is in less than a year in office, failing in court repeatedly, while Stapleton has devoted his time to scrutinizing state public employee retirement funds–two years late to the reform party. Not to mention taking his “moonlighting” investment firm private, inviting charges of personal hypocrisy.

On the other hand…one of Stapleton’s main beefs with Hickenlooper was his failure to take a stand one way or another on Proposition 103, isn’t it? We know more than a few of our readers are likely to agree–or at least did agree around Election Day earlier this month. Unfortunately, the lopsided margin by which Proposition 103 was defeated makes it very difficult to question Hickenlooper’s neutrality: by Democrats or Republicans. In retrospect, it sure doesn’t look like Hickenlooper’s endorsement would have made a difference, and there’s an argument that by staying away from Proposition 103, Hickenlooper has kept his hands clean to propose a more comprehensive solution on his terms. Republicans see a ripe target in Proposition 103 after its defeat, but attempting to tie it to Hickenlooper personally just doesn’t work.

Beyond that, we’re just not sure you can accurately call Hickenlooper’s first year “unproductive” in any sense. Hickenlooper showed leadership defending the state’s new health insurance exchange from nonsensical “Tea Party” attacks, and vetoed legislation that would have hiked premiums on many children insured by the state’s Child Health Plan Plus program. Hickenlooper’s most dramatic use of executive power so far was his sacking of the Limiting Gaming Control Commission after they refused to undo a politically unfathomable vote to cut taxes on the casino industry. Hickenlooper’s personal involvement in negotiations with major businesses is resulting in relocations to Colorado and all-important jobs–for which he doesn’t seem to be getting much credit from the state’s chief financial officer.

It seems like every news story about Hickenlooper these days alludes to the fact that he’s been “mentioned” as a possible presidential candidate beginning in 2016 due to stellar approval. Stapleton says that Hickenlooper’s very high approval ratings are a result of his “staying on the sidelines” on the big issues. We think the truth is somewhere in the middle: Hickenlooper is popular now with much political capital left to spend, but before he runs for President, he’s going to need to spend it. A long-term, comprehensive resolution to Colorado’s perpetual fiscal struggles would indeed be one hell of a success story on which to run for President.

For as much as we hear about Hickenlooper’s possible long-term aspirations for higher office, which is fairly often, we think Hickenlooper knows he has yet to earn his way.

Gessler suggests people influence journalists by, among things, blogging 20 minutes a week

(But don’t comment to “ColoradoPols bloggers!” – promoted by Colorado Pols)



Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler said last month that he thinks  ”a lot of the mainstream media” get upset when Republicans “make waves,” but these hostile feelings toward the media didn’t stop him Monday from suggesting people can influence newspaper editors by writing letters to the editor and online comments.

“So, sign up for our e-newsletters, sign up for our notifications, write an email, write an email to us so you know what’s going on,” he said. “Come to our rulemaking hearings. Once every two months, write a letter-to-the-editor. Twenty minutes a week, do a blog. I won’t ask anyone to contribute money to a campaign. And serve as an election judge. Those are the things you can do. [BigMedia emphasis]

“When they write a story, and they see a large number of comments one way or the other, that means something,” said Gessler. “We do a terrible job on our ideological side of the fence. We do a terrible job of this.“[BigMedia emphasis]

Gessler’s comments came in response to a question from the audience at his lecture Monday evening at Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute.

The unidentified questioner asked speakers Gessler and Colorado State Treasurer Walker Stapleton what ordinary citizens can do.

In addition to writing letters-to-the-editor and blogging, Gessler suggested people volunteer as election judges, sign up to receive e-mails from his office, and attend rulemaking hearings or submit comments on proposed rules.

Gessler said testifying during the rulemaking process is important but did not have an impact in the recent challenge of his rule to increase the amount of money a group of people can raise for an political issue before their group is subject to campaign finance laws.

“Now, this particular court [in the issue-committee-threshold case] didn’t read any of that [citizen testimony], so he [the judge] wasn’t quite prepared, which he admitted, which is unfortunate, but I’m sure the Court of Appeals will be far more prepared than he was, and those comments are just critical for helping me out,” said Gessler.

Here’s an excerpt of Gessler’s comments on this topic:

Look, if you can spend time, two or three hours, once every two months, to write a letter-to-the editor, that makes a difference. Writing a letter-to-the-editor once every two months really makes a difference.  It only takes three or four hours, about as much time as you’ll spend driving here, listening, and driving home. That makes a difference.

It doesn’t just have to be The Denver Post.; particularly local papers as well helps. When you see something in a local paper online, I’m assuming most people go online., instead of merely raging at the machine, I love raging at the machine, don’t get me wrong, instead of merely raging at the machine, write a post to that story. Because let me tell you something, newspaper editors pay attention to that stuff. And actually a lot of readers pay attention to that stuff too. When they write a story and they see a large number of comments one way or the other, that means something. We do a terrible job on our ideological side of the fence. We do a terrible job of this. I’ll go online, and my wife is watching, and she’ll say, ‘Don’t read those. Don’t read ‘em.’ And I’ll read them nonetheless. And look, people on our side don’t take the time to do that. You don’t have to put your name. You can be anonymous. You have sign up and register with your real name, but it can be absolutely anonymous.  I would challenge everyone to do this, 20 minutes, once a week. That’s what I would challenge you to do for 20 minutes, maybe 30 minutes once a week.

The other thing is, come to my website…and sign up for our e-newsletters….

So my office engages in rulemaking a lot. I just said, I’m re-doing all the campaign finance rules to make them clear. Okay. What helps me a lot, is when you come in to my office during rulemaking. You can come in person, is the best and testify. You can write us an email and that becomes part of our record. You can write us a regular letter and that becomes part of our record. The reason this is so important is, if I say, for example, I want to raise the threshold, and I did this. I held a rulemaking hearing, saying I want to raise the threshold to $5,000.  Well, what happened is people came in, and I see Matt Arnold with his hand up the entire time, and he’s one of the people who came in. I’m teasing Matt. And he said look, and other people did, this is why it’s so hard, this is the burden we face. And when I get that evidence and testimony, and I can take that evidence and testimony and use it in court to defend myself. So if you can bring your personal experiences in, that’s just so critical. Now, this particular court didn’t read any of that, so he wasn’t quite prepared, which he admitted, which is unfortunate, but I’m sure the Court of Appeals will be far more prepared than he was, and those comments are just critical for helping me out.

So, sign up for our e-newsletters, sign up for our notifications, write an email, write an email to us so you know what’s going on. Come to our rulemaking hearings. Once every two months, write a letter-to-the-editor. Twenty minutes a week, do a blog. I won’t ask anyone to contribute money to a campaign. And serve as an election judge. Those are the things you can do.

And let me tell you. If everyone in this room did those things on a consistent basis, it would make a huge impact here in the state of Colorado. It would have an impact people rarely ever see. Just the people in this room, if everyone did that on a consistent basis.

Perry Who? Colorado GOP Brass Backs Romney

Tim Hoover of the Denver paper reports that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, recently challenged for his status as frontrunning Republican presidential candidate in this state by the surging Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, will appear in Denver next week in downtown Denver at a $500-a-plate fundraiser for his campaign.

Perry may have shaken Romney’s heretofore lead in Colorado in the most recent polling, but it’s worth noting (as Hoover does) the long list of Colorado GOP luminaries co-hosting Romney’s fundraiser next week–including Bill Owens, Hank Brown, Wayne Allard, and all three statewide Republican officeholders: Treasurer Walker Stapleton, Secretary of State Scott Gessler, and Attorney General John Suthers.

Lead or no lead, it’s a bit more impressive a roster than Marc Holtzman and Scott McInnis.

Cary Kennedy Gets Denver CFO Position

A happy ending (and campaign olive branch profferred) in the case of the able former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, reports FOX 31′s Eli Stokols:

Mayor-elect Michael Hancock is expected to name former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy as the city’s Chief Financial Officer on Wednesday, FOX 31 Denver has learned.

Kennedy, who was an outspoken supporter of Hancock’s runoff opponent, Chris Romer, this spring, was widely considered a rising star in Colorado Democratic circles until her defeat last year at the hands of Republican Walker Stapleton.

Kennedy served one term as treasurer from 2007-2011 and was lauded, at least by Democrats, for her conservative approach to managing state revenues amidst the recession. A nonpartisan audit released Tuesday also praised Kennedy for her work.

Posted from Denver Pols

Credit Where Credit is Due

(Between this and Stapleton’s PERA concern trolling, he set the bar pretty high for his own performance–will they sing Stapleton’s praises come audit time like they did Cary Kennedy? – promoted by Colorado Pols)



Just sayin’…

From veteran political reporter Ed Sealover at the Denver Business Journal:

The audit that has set off a conversation about whether Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton should invest in foreign currency also had high praise for Stapleton’s predecessor, Cary Kennedy.

During Kennedy’s four years as treasurer from 2007 through 2010, her office’s return on its investments met or exceeded every benchmark against which it was compared in a difficult market, wrote Buck Global Investment Advisors, which performed the audit for the state.

While investment returns were below national benchmarks during the first few quarters that Kennedy was in office, they exceeded them, sometimes by eight times the percentage of return, at the end of her term, the audit showed.

Cary Kennedy said no to risky investments.  The kind of investments that landed countless government funds across the country in hot water.

After receiving the audit, the one-time real estate company executive was complimentary of his predecessor and the state’s investment officers, who he inherited in his administration.

“It’s a reflection of the admirable job that the staff of the treasurer’s office has done, which includes her,” Stapleton said. “I give her credit for doing a good job and maintaining state investments in a volatile market.”



Walker Stapleton–Just a Crappy Investor?

As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Patrick Malone reports, what are we to conclude from the continuous running down of the Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) by Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton? Makes you wonder, especially when:

In the calendar year 2010, PERA realized a 14 percent return on its investments, according to Meredith Williams, CEO of PERA. As of last week, PERA had earned 5 percent on its investments.

“I give the PERA investment team credit this year,” Stapleton said. “They did a great job. But we’re not talking about investments in a one-year or a 10-year time frame; we’re talking about a 30-year time frame.”

Stapleton said he objects to the target of an 8 percent annual yield because it fosters risky investments in order to hit such a high mark…

Yes, well:

Over the past 25 years, PERA has averaged a 9.3 percent return on its investments. The rate of return during the past decade has been about half as much thanks to drastic economic downturns in 2002 and 2008…

Looking at investment returns from other states during the same 25-year span, the average annual rate was 8.7 percent, according to [Tom] Cavanaugh [of Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting].

What this boils down to is a clash between conservatives and public employees over recent PERA reforms–2010′s Senate Bill 1 stabilized the pension fund in the wake of the major economic crises of the last ten years, largely by hiking employee contributions and tightening eligibility for benefits. Based on that, public employees say they have made enough sacrifice. Walker Stapleton, however, clearly isn’t so sure, having testified before Congress about the “unsustainable” nature of PERA’s investments even after reform.

So, you know, maybe he’s right, but the long-term historical and present performance of these investments doesn’t indicate that; as this audit by an independent consultancy shows pretty clearly. And if Stapleton’s PERA investment naysaying continues to underestimate their performance–meaning PERA’s investments simply track their historical average–people might start asking if Stapleton’s just not very good at picking winners in the market.

A harsh indictment for Colorado’s Treasurer and the CEO of SonomaWest Holdings

Sen. Heath launches initiative to support schools


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Yesterday, Senator Rollie Heath announced that he was going forward with Initiative #25. Heath said it was going to be a 5-year timeout to education cuts.

Denver’s finest Eli Stokols reports:

“For too long we have been near the bottom in funding our schools, and the budget cuts we’ve made the last two years have made a bad situation worse,” Heath said. “We can’t tolerate that anymore.

“Doing nothing is just not an option.”

It raises about $530 million annually for education for 5 years by raising the state sales and income tax back up to 1999 levels before the legislature cut them. That is, sales tax goes from 2.9% to 3.0% and state income tax goes from 4.63% to 5.0%. That will equate an average of about $550 per student for all K-12 and higher ed students.

Heath’s initiative has been flying under the radar now; people seemed to have forgotten about it. He says he has the support of several groups, like Great Ed, ARC of Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and local teachers’ unions, among others.

He certainly has a long road to collect the 86,000 necessary signatures, especially if it actually is a grassroots campaign like he claims. I was at an event last week and somebody asked me to sign the petition, so he has at least started some organization.

Poll follows:

 

Also, apparently, Treasurer Walker Stalpeton thoughts were important, as he was quoted as well. He did have this gem of a quote:

Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton said the fact that Heath is going to the ballot proves he has no support at the Legislature, which concluded the 2011 session last week.

“I think he chose to have it on the Monday after the legislative session ended because he knows there’s no support for this initiative in the state,” Stapleton said.

What? First off, TABOR demands that any sort of tax increase must go to the ballot, and cannot be passed just by the legislature. Secondly, does that mean that anything that can’t get through the legislature has “no support in the state?” This logic must mean that the Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) have terribly unpopular platforms! There is no support for civil unions, pay day lenders, pro-immigration reform, anti-immigration reform, etc etc you get the point.

Obviously, any sort of legislation to increase state revenue wasn’t going anywhere in the Republican controlled House. If Heath really wanted to raise money to support education, which he seemingly does, he had to go the initiative route.  

What say you pollsters, would you support Heath's Initiative #25?

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