Jill Repella – Scaring Women to the R Side

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

 Bob Beauprez and Jill Repella,photo from Beauprez CampaignRecently, in Pueblo, Beauprez attempted to sidetrack discussion about reproductive choice with a strange diatribe about how women are really scared about Hickenlooper's release of violent parolees, and this is the security issue for which women should vote Republican.

Lieutenant Governor candidate Jill Repella posted a statement on the Beauprez website :  HIgh Risk Parolee Scandal. She touts her female credentials: "As a single mother, I find that [release of parolees] appalling." Repella, a woman promoting this as a woman's issue,  attempts to woo women to the Republican side as "security voters".

Beauprez got booed by the audience, and lambasted by Mike Littwin, for bringing  the murder of prisons chief Tom Clements by parolee Evan Ebel into the debate to make his point about women's safety. Hickenlooper responded factually, that prisoners are no longer released directly from solitary confinement onto the streets.

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New Poll: Tax Fairness Breaks Senate Race Gridlock?

UPDATE #2: From today's press release:

“Coloradans from all backgrounds prefer a Senate candidate who supports closing corporate tax loopholes and ending tax breaks for the wealthy,” said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. “The tax fairness agenda is supported by Colorado voters more than most other top issues emphasized by the Senate candidates.  That suggests that a candidate who supports tax fairness issues could get an edge in this race.”

“When you look at the strength of these numbers, it’s hard to understand why the candidates don’t focus more on tax issues,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund. “Colorado families clearly want a fairer tax system and they are more likely to choose a candidate for the U.S. Senate who will fight for it.”

“The results of this poll show that, yet again, Mark Udall falls squarely on the side of the majority of Coloradans when it comes to the issue of corporations paying their fair share,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, Executive Director of ProgressNow Colorado. “Cory Gardner, on the other hand, has voted time and again to give tax breaks to big business and against the best interests of everyday people in our state.”

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UPDATE: The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe reports:

PPP also surveyed Coloradans on a series of hot-button issues, including whether they’d be more likely to support a candidate who wants to “protect a woman’s right to choose,” who “believes we just can’t afford ObamaCare” and who wants “to make sure the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.”

ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Amy Runyon-Harris said the results of the survey show Udall is on the right side of most of the issues polled, and particularly on tax fairness issues. She suggested, however, more needs to be done to inform voters of his positions.

“We’ve got 40-odd days here left [before Election Day] to educate voters about where Mark Udall stands on these issues and where Cory Gardner stands on these issues,” she said, expressing confidence that once voters learned more they’d support Udall.

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Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A new poll by Public Policy Polling released today for Americans for Tax Fairness and ProgressNow Colorado has numbers you won't be surprised by: a statistical tie continuing in the Colorado U.S. Senate race–Cory Gardner technically up 47-45% over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall with 8% undecided. The poll's margin of error is +/- 3.8%.

But as PPP's analysis explains, those aren't the numbers that really matter:

The poll questioned likely voters on a variety of issues that are central to this Senate race, including important tax issues, and found the following: 

• Colorado voters strongly prefer a candidate who supports a “tax fairness”  agenda. Voters across party lines overwhelmingly support a tax system in which the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. 

• Tax fairness issues ranked higher than nearly all other major issues being  debated in the Senate race. 

• Support for tax fairness issues runs so strong across party lines that it appears to  be a core value held by the public. Wide majorities of white, African-American  and Latino voters expressed support for tax fairness. A wide majority of women  and a majority of men expressed support for tax fairness issues. A majority of  self-described moderates and independents also supported these positions.

A total of 10 issues were tested. Three of the top five dealt with tax fairness: 

• 79% of likely voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who wants to close tax loopholes and use the money to create jobs, including 72% of independents and 71% of Republicans. 

• 73% of likely voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who wants to make sure millionaires do not pay a lower tax rate than the middle class, including 75% of independents and 55% of Republicans. 

• 68% of likely voters want to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas, including 70% of independents and 57% of Republicans.

Here are the full toplines and analysis.

For the past several months, the U.S. Senate race has been locked in a very narrow range according to most polls. Udall has held on to an enduring lead with women voters over Gardner, which has kept Udall strong through a summer of millions spent on attack ads against him. If the numbers in this poll are accurate, the issue of fairness in tax policy is extremely fertile ground for Udall to differentiate himself from Gardner. In the last big debate over tax rates on wealthy Americans, extending the 2003 Bush tax cuts, Udall and Gardner were polar opposites. More recently, Gardner has supported the Paul Ryan GOP budget plans, all of which included large tax breaks for wealthy Americans–again, on the wrong side of what looks like a lopsided majority.

Is this issue a breakout opportunity for Udall in a race way too close to call?

Sad Walker Stapleton Wishes “State Treasurer” Title Made Him Financial Expert

Walker Stapleton hyper-inflation

Walker Stapleton prefers not to talk about his 2010 suggestion that Colorado invest more heavily in gold.

Do you have any idea what kind of requirements you must meet in order to become Colorado's State Treasurer?

Not much, actually. You must be at least 25 years of age; a Colorado resident for a minimum of 2 years; and a United States Citizen. That's it — that's all there is in the Colorado State Statutes. You don't need to have any sort of special training in finance. You don't even need to have a college degree in, well, anything. Primarily, you just need to have been alive for awhile and in Colorado recently.

Why do we bring this up? Because State Treasurer Walker Stapleton has been trying to get appointed to something called The Colorado Retirement Security Task Force, which is being set up by the legislature regarding…yes, retirement savings (bill sponsors Sen. Pat Steadman and Rep. John Bucker outlined their legislation in a recent Denver Post Op-Ed). Stapleton was apparently angry that he did not receive an invitation to the task force, and he and his supporters argued (and whined) that it was inconceivable someone could form a financial task force in Colorado and not include the expertise of the State Treasurer.

This was apparently a big deal for Stapleton supporters, with right-wing blogs devoting multiple posts to the topic this week. In one post this week from the blog Colorado Peak Politics, the author makes the case for including Stapleton on the Task Force while at the same time complaining that the whole idea is stupid anyway — basically repeating what teenagers across Colorado are saying this time of year when they don't get invited to Prom. Here's the "why Stapleton" argument:

Treasurer Walker Stapleton is the only statewide official who sits on the board of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), and his expertise would be invaluable to the task force.  So why block him from participating?

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DCCC Hits Coffman on New “Ryan Plan”

The Hill reports today:

House Democratic leaders bashing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) latest budget bill have at least one good thing to say about the sweeping plan: It could help them at the polls in November.

Democrats have been focused on a populist economic agenda that includes an increase in the minimum wage, an extension of emergency jobless benefits and a broad expansion of health insurance coverage included in the Affordable Care Act. 

They're hoping the Ryan plan — which slashes spending on food stamps, low-income education initiatives and Medicaid, among a long list of domestic programs — plays right into their messaging strategy.

It's generally accepted today that the budget proposals put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan since 2010 have harmed Republicans politically, especially in 2012 when Ryan's spot on the Republican presidential ticket made him an icon of their policy goals. Democrats aggressively campaigned against Ryan's budget proposals, particularly where they affected popular programs like Medicare and Social Security. Fact-checkers stopped short of validating the frequent Democratic campaign charge that the Ryan Plan would "end Medicare," but it's a much more accurate statement to say Ryan's proposal would privatize Medicare–and no less damaging politically.

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Rivera / Crowder Town Hall Heats Up, Democracy Thrives

 

 



 

 


When Colorado Senators Larry Crowder (left) and George Rivera convened a town hall in Pueblo on Wednesday, March 19, they probably hadn't planned to be confronted, interrupted, and corrected by dozens of Pueblo citizens of various political stripes. But that's what happened.

Over the course of a two hour meeting, Rivera and Crowder discussed wage theft, the proposed SouthWest Chief Rail expansion to Pueblo, PERA, TABOR, minimum wage and the rights of workers to organize, with about fifty vocal and opinionated constituents.

Senator Rivera came out swinging as the hard-right conservative he is- he explained that he is a "right to work" guy, that he is "not a believer in… the whole concept of the minimum wage", that he would like to privatize PERA (change it from a defined benefit to a "defined contribution" model).

He does not support the  lawsuit challenging TABOR, and he would rather see people paying fuel taxes than using public transportation, a dig at the proposed SW Chief rail line, the signature issue of his opponent for SD3, Represenative Leroy Garcia.

On SB14-05,  the "wage theft" legislation passed out of Committee  and into Appropriations with no Republican support, neither Senator took a strong position.  Both Senators agreed that it is a shame to steal a day's pay for a day's work, expressed some caution about costs of the measure, and moved on.


Senator Crowder, the more experienced politician, took softer stances, or tried to avoid taking stances altogether. He did not agree with privatizing PERA. He also does not support the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of TABOR, does not support raising the minimum wage to $10.10, and seems to be somewhat ignorant of what would be required to dismantle TABOR.

On the minimum wage issue, Crowder advocates for raising the "median wage", a proposal which got quite a few baffled looks from the town hall attendees. Crowder stated  that only 2% of workers receive minimum wage, when, in actuality, 59% of workers, mostly women, are paid at the minimum level. 


When directly challenged by Yesenia Beascochea (left) of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition: "How are people supposed to buy groceries on $7 an hour?" Crowder waffled until he was rescued by George Rivera's daughter, (left center) who ranted for three minutes, questioning  why anyone should support poor folks on Medicaid.

So, Crowder never answered Beascochea's question.  Crowder is also the more moderate of the two southeastern Colorado Senators; Crowder was the only Republican to vote for Colorado's Medicaid expansion and Health Exchange. Lamar's Crowder is also a co-sponsor of the SW Chief rail expansion legislation, and did not agree with Rivera on the need to "privatize PERA".


Excerpts from the Town Hall discussion:

PERA

Rivera supports a “defined contribution” plan, not a “defined benefit” plan. Rationale: it will save money.

Carole Partin, a teacher, challenged him: Privatizing PERA will change it, and those are benefits that we worked for.  A defined contribution plan goes out to the hedge fund managers.

MINIMUM WAGE:

Barb Clementi, another teacher,  schooled the Senators on how we subsidize Walmart because of minimum wages. Rivera argued that low wages, low taxes are what brought businesses in.

Rivera argued that minimum wage legislation is a "slippery slope." He wondered, "Why would it stop at $10/hr, why not $25 hr?", and predicted that businesses would pass costs to the consumer, or close down. When confronted with examples of businesses such as Costco and others which pay $10.10 an hour, and are thriving, he changed the subject.

Question: What’s your opinion on raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour?

Rivera: "Well, I’m not a believer in the minimum wage. The whole concept of the minimum wage.  Because, OK, you raise it up to ten dollars and ten cents. What’s the business going to do? Are they gonna sit there, and say, OK, we’re gonna pay out that ten dollars and ten cents? And all of a sudden, we’re in the red, and whereas before we were paying seven dollars, seven-fifty, and isn’t that three dollars…more?. What are they gonna do? They’re gonna raise the cost of their goods to make up that three dollars and ten cents. So all of a sudden that ten dollars and ten cents…you’re right back where you were, a year or two later, you’re chasing your tail."

"Now let me give you another, for example….why stop at $10.10?  Why not go to twenty-five? Because twenty-five dollars an hour…Heck, we’ll all agree is good money, and everyone will be happy. No, that’s not gonna work, again, because they gotta raise the cost, raise the price of whatever goods they’re selling. They gotta make up for the cost of that pay raise, whatever it is."

Q: Do you think that Walmart’s going to go in the red by paying the minimum wage?

Crowder: Here I thought I had a chance. I can wait outside. (laughter)

"Here’s the thing about the minimum wage. 2% of the people rely on the minimum wage. (he’s 57% off, according to the Dept of Labor- 59% of American workers work for minimum wage)

What we ought to be talking about is the median wage. (Audience murmurs, puzzled) We’ve lost so much ground in the middle class. That’s what we ought to do. ….we need to work legislatively to stay out of the middle class’s way, so that they can continue…I think if we take care of the median wage, that the minimum wage will take care of itself. One of the things we can do is we can look at the employment percentage right now. "

It’s 9%. What we can do is get that employment percentage down here (gestures), and

Q: Yesenia Beascochea: Can I interrupt real quick, because I hear the both of you talking about the minimum wage.  Pay the people seven dollars an hour, minimum wage, and they have to buy the groceries, as the prices rise. The prices are rising. So how are you guys expecting…and I’m talking about poor people, that can’t afford to buy groceries at seven dollars an hour?

Crowder: (doesn’t answer her question) Would it benefit the working poor if a certain percent lost their jobs?

(Rivera's daughter complains for three minutes about how health care for the poor costs money to middle class people because: Obamacare).

TABOR:

I asked both Senators about their positions on TABOR.

Crowder: "My position on TABOR is simple. Voters voted it in. It’s up to the voters to vote it out. I do not agree with the lawsuit on TABOR that’s in the courts right now. I think what it does, it…undermines the voters…If people, truly, do not want TABOR, which I believe is….you hear both sides, you know? But I do believe that, to go through the court system, when the people of Colorado voted for it, undermines them.  So if someone wants to bring a petition, and convince the people of Colroado to get that back on the ballot,  then I would support that."

Barb Clementi (left): You recognize that it would take six or eight initiatives to actually do that?

Crowder: No, no, that can’t be true.

Barb Clementi: Yes, it would take many different initiatives to undo TABOR.

(Rivera interrupts)

Rivera:  "Well, I’ll be honest with you. If we have the low taxes that you’re talking about, ….you don’t think that TABOR had something to do with that? Look at all of the fees we pay…the fee you pay when you get your license plates. What do you think that is? That’s a tax by another name, that’s all that is."

UNIONS and ORGANIZING

Ron Greenwell, (left), chair of the Pueblo Democratic party, questioned Senator Rivera about how he felt about unions in general.

Greenwell: What do you know about the Colorado Peace Act? What do you feel about unions in general? And, would you support organized labor in the future?


Rivera: On the Colorado Peace Act, I'm not sure what you're referring to.

Greenwell: The Colorado Peace Act is legislation, that, when you're going in to organize, it's not a 50 plus 1, ….it's a 60 plus 40, something like that. And so, to make it fair for those who are organizing, they have to get 60% of the vote, rather than 50% plus 1.

RIGHT to WORK (for less): Rivera: Well, I believe in “right to work”. Let’s put it that way. …

(loud disagreement, chatter, laughter, comments from audience.

Rivera: …I don't think it's anti-union, whatever…I believe in right to work.

Rivera: I think if the government just keeps out of the way of people….(interruptions by several audience members) "Government is people! ”Government is in the business of helping the common people."


GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE OK IF IT'S WOMEN'S BODIES?

Kiera Hatton-Sena countered with a pointed question: So,  the “government shouldn’t interfere” with my body?"

Neither of the Senators answered Hatton-Sena's question.

The town hall finished with Rivera proclaiming that he was happy that so many people had attended his town hall, although they were clearly not in agreement with him. Colorado Progressive Coalition had informed its members about the town hall. 

I personally found it disturbing, not that there was conflict and disagreement, but how uninformed both Senators were. Rivera did not know the provisions of the Colorado Peace Act, although he proclaims that he believes in "Right to Work". Crowder had no clue that 59% of the population, not 2%, receives minimum wage. Neither Senator knew how much work it would take to undo Tabor; when they advocated for voter initiatives, to "Let the Voters Decide," they were effectively advocating to let TABOR continue to wreak harm in Colorado indefinitely. Rivera was seemingly not aware that a "defined contribution plan" effectively privatizes people's retirement benefits.

Senators Rivera and Crowder are out of touch with the majority of their constituents who are in favor of raising the minimum wage. They don't "get" women's complaints about the hypocrisy of proclaiming that government should not interfere with people's lives, while the government aggressively interferes with women's reproductive choices over their own bodies. In pro-union Pueblo, in which most people have a family member who worked or works for a union, Rivera's hard anti-union stance will also not win friends and influence constituents.

This is what small-d democracy looks like, and it is indeed a positive thing. It remains to be seen if the Senators will follow up with conversations with, and allow themselves to be educated by their disaffected constituents, or merely heave sighs of relief: "That's over."


 

Video from 3/19 Pueblo town hall More videos at: http://www.youtube.com/user/socoteacher

 

All photos and videos of this event by the author.

 

Another Republican Joins Growing Anti-TABOR Chorus

UPDATE: Vic Vela at Colorado Community Media sheds some light on the arcane workings of TABOR in play here:

A TABOR technicality may require the state to issue pot revenue refunds – even though voters intended for money that's collected from marijuana tax money to go towards school construction and the cost of pot industry regulations.

TABOR is generally thought of as being a statute that requires all tax hikes be approved by the voters. But the technical clause also includes an area that requires the state to issue tax refunds when state spending exceeds expectations that are included in voter information material that is sent out each election, otherwise called the "Blue Book."

That seems to be the case this year and lawmakers are trying to figure out how to deal with it.

"This is confounding," said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver. "TABOR told us to let the voters decide. The voters have decided and their wishes may be frustrated by something hidden in the TABOR amendment."

Doug Bruce says, "mwah!"

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Rep. Cheri Gerou (R).

Rep. Cheri Gerou (R).

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports, things sometimes look different from a seat on the powerful legislative Joint Budget Commission. And that includes, where the subject is a reasonable actor, Republicans:

For years Democrats have been ranting and raving about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which requires voters to approve all tax hikes and keeps state spending from rising beyond a certain level.

On Tuesday, during a Joint Budget Committee briefing on the state’s quarterly revenue forecast, a Republican lawmaker joined them.

“I have to tell you, quite honestly, the more I learn about TABOR, particularly what it did with the floods in our counties, the less and less I like TABOR, and the more insidious I think it has been to state government,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, who sits on the Joint Budget Committee and is in her final year at the legislature…

“I’ll have an effigy burned in my front yard when I get home, but it’s the honest to goodness truth,” Gerou said. “It’s not been good.” [Pols emphasis]

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Reminder: TABOR Has a Dark Side

weedmoney

As FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Tax revenues from Colorado’s new recreational marijuana industry are pouring into state coffers — and that’s actually a bit of a problem for lawmakers…

According to a legal analysis conducted by the state and obtained by FOX31 Denver, the marijuana revenues are subject to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), which will require lawmakers to take action if tax revenues from the new legal marijuana industry exceed the estimated $67 million in annual revenue that was anticipated in the 2013 Blue Book analysis of Proposition AA, the new sales and excise tax rates voters approved in November.

The legal memorandum from the Office of Legislative Legal Services was sent to members of the Joint Budget Committee Monday night…

The most current Dept. of Revenue estimate forecasts that the state will take in $107 million, exceeding the Blue Book estimate by some $40 million.

The conclusion: the state must lower the tax rate and either refund the excess amount of revenues above the $67 million estimate or refer a measure to the November 2014 or 2015 ballot seeking permission from voters to let the state keep and spend all of the tax revenue from recreational marijuana.

As news reports came in that the tax revenue being collected from the legal sale of marijuana in Colorado was greatly exceeding early estimates–something we predicted would be the case–the possibility that this new robust source of revenue might be subject to Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) limits was in the back of our minds.

When defending TABOR, Republicans generally stick to the most popular provision of convicted felon Doug Bruce's labyrinthine 1992 constitutional "tax reform" measure: its requirement that affected citizens vote on tax increases. If that was truly all TABOR did, it would be harder for Democrats and good government-minded Republicans–some also part of a lawsuit seeking to overturn TABOR–to publicly oppose it, though the basic question of whether that disrupts the whole principle of small-r republican government remains. When you poll that one aspect of TABOR, naturally, it polls well.

But when you start getting under the hood–how tax increase elections are subject to stringent limits on timing and ballot question language, how TABOR stymies the ability of the state to plan in good times for bad times, how (as may be in this case) the state cannot even take advantage of a huge new revenue source twice approved by voters–it's not nearly as rosy a picture now, is it?

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School Funding

Pols reporting of the ongoing school funding issue in the legislature seems nonexistent. Check out Chalkboard for the news on a united front of Colorado educators asking for no more unfunded mandates and some backfilling of the cuts of the last few years.

Democratic legislators appear to be under increasing pressure to restore funding, WITHOUT requiring implementation of their pet projects. Yesterday's letter to Gov. Hickenlooper signed by almost all superintendents in the state is unprecedented, yet very clear in what educators feel they need.

Federal Suit Challenging TABOR Lives Another Day

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In the case of Kerr v. Hickenlooper, state legislators and others have sought to have Colorado's taxpayer's bill of rights (TABOR) declared unconstitutional because it deprives Colorado of a Republican form of government, under the federal constitutional guaranty clause and the act that authorized Colorado to become a state.

On Friday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado refusing to dismiss the lawsuit either on the ground that the Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue, or on the grounds that this was a "political question" beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to resolve.  An additional equal protection claim was dismissed by the trial court, but that dismissal was beyond the scope of the appeal decided with the permission of the trial court judge prior to a final ruling in the case.

As a result, the case will now go forward on the merits of whether or not TABOR deprives the citizens of the State of Colorado of a Republican form of government, unless an en banc panel of the 10th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court decide to stop the suit now (both of which are unlikely since this is not a final determination of the case of the merits).  Since the decision will now be on the merits of the case, the stakes are now much higher.  Realistically, however, this lawsuit is still a long shot that is unlikely to prevail.

The 10th Circuit ruling is available at: http://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/opinions/12/12-1445.pdf

“Obamaquester” No More!

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reports:

[In summer 2011], the GOP and President Obama agreed to set caps on annual spending and to set in motion a bigger, broader budget cut: sequestration. This was a massive cut — $85 billion in the first year — spread across much of the federal government…

When the House GOP created a PowerPoint presentation titled “What We’ve Achieved,” these ­sequester-driven reductions in spending were trumpeted in the first slide. “For the first time since the Korean War, total federal spending has gone down for two years in a row,” the party declares, meaning fiscal 2012 and 2013. The spending cuts were also on the second slide. And the third. There were five slides total. (The other two focused on tax increases that might have happened, but didn’t.)

“It forced the spending curve downward,” Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) said. “It actually made government and Washington, D.C., finally deal with what the American people have been dealing with, and that’s having to deal with less income and revenue.” [Pols emphasis]

The large across-the-board budget cuts mandated by the “sequester” provisions of the 2011 Budget Control Act, as Fahrenthold explains, were meant to be a “booby trap” to force both sides to negotiate over future budget reductions. The agreement to set up this negotiation “incentive” came after the last great budgetary impasse between President Barack Obama and House Republicans in 2011, which led to the first-ever downgrade of the nation’s credit rating and tremendous turmoil in financial markets.

Here’s Rep. Scott Tipton, similarly praising the sequester cuts locked in by this week’s deal:

Today’s agreement includes positive steps to extend responsible spending reforms, prevent a national default on nearly $17 trillion of U.S. debt, and reopen the government. It protects the economy and sets the stage for further budget negotiations to address our nation’s spending crisis. Our nation is facing a staggering national debt, and this plan continues to address the debt by extending sequester-level spending reforms. [Pols emphasis]

But just a few short months ago, Republicans were saying something very different.

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Cruz Plots Against Boehner? Fiscal Fight Goes Red-on-Red

SUNDAY UPDATE: As the New York Times reports, fevered apocalyptic rhetoric is the order of the day:

Representative John Culberson of Texas said that as he and his colleagues were clamoring for a vote, he shouted out his own encouragement. “I said, like 9/11, ‘Let’s roll!' [Pols emphasis] ” That the Senate would almost certainly reject the health care delay, he added, was not a concern. “Ulysses S. Grant used to say, ‘Boys, quit worrying about what Bobby Lee is doing. I want to know what we are doing.’ And that’s what the House is doing today, thank God.”

Because when you invoke 9/11 and the Civil War at the same time, you surely must mean business.

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UPDATE: It looks like Sen. Ted Cruz has prevailed over John Boehner, and a shutdown it will be–Politico:

House Republicans will vote to pass a one-year delay of Obamacare in exchange for funding the government, a plan that drastically increases the chances of a government shutdown this Tuesday.

The decision was announced by the GOP leadership in a closed meeting Saturday afternoon, according to sources present. Republicans will also pass a bill to fund U.S. troops if the government shuts down, according to GOP lawmakers. The House’s funding measure will keep the government open until mid December…

“We’ve had enough of the disunity in our party,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told the meeting of House Republicans Saturday afternoon. “The headlines are Republicans fighting Republicans. This will unite us. [Pols emphasis] This protects the people who sent us here from Obamacare.”

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

A key development in a brief Hill story yesterday:

Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday appeared to confirm that he plotted with House conservatives to prevent Republican leadership from shifting strategy in the government shutdown fight. 

“We’ve had numerous conversations with numerous members of the House,” Cruz (R-Texas) said after the Senate approved a continuing resolution that was amended by Democrats to preserve funding for ObamaCare…

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team on Thursday tried to round up votes for a bill that would tie a debt-ceiling increase to a wish-list of Republican priorities. But conservatives balked, forcing GOP leaders to postpone a vote on the bill.

The National Review reported Friday that Cruz and his allies had met with House conservatives on Thursday and urged them to oppose Boehner’s move to push a fight over the healthcare law to the debt ceiling.

House Speaker John Boehner (R).

House Speaker John Boehner (R).

​We haven't yet heard if any Colorado movers/shakers were in that meeting, but here's looking at you, Cory Gardner.

To be honest, given the much more dire consequences of a default on the nation's debt–even the discussion of it–than a government shutdown, steering away from that particular battleground could be a smart strategic decision by Sen. Ted Cruz. But the fact remains that Republicans are apparently not anywhere near agreement even amongst themselves as they clamber on in pursuit of what Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn describes as "the Holy Grail" of killing President Barack Obama's eponymous health care reform law. Polling shows that Sen. Cruz's 21-hour "pseudobuster" this week was seen by many more Americans as a useless stunt than an effective action. Polling also shows that even Americans who are uneasy about Obamacare do not want the government shut down in order to stop it. And the additional leverage that Speaker John Boehner seeks in holding the so-called "debt ceiling" hostage is directly the result of the even greater harm that would be done if Republicans don't get their way.

If you thought 2011 was a train wreck, maybe you haven't seen anything yet.

A Few Words About Morse and Marijuana

The Colorado Springs Gazette's editorial page blared a nasty headline yesterday targeting liberal support for Senate President John Morse, perfectly timed with robocalls going out to Democrats in Senate District 11:

It's a safe bet many of the students who rallied for Morse last week would also rally for more marijuana rights. That's not to pass judgment on Colorado College. It's just a young, liberal college thing to advocate marijuana freedom.

Morse claims to favor legalization, but advocates of that cause do not favor authoritarian Morse.

Don't ask us. Ask the Marijuana Policy Project, the country's largest and best-funded organization working toward legalization of pot. The organization feels so threatened by Morse – a purported advocate of their cause – they named him this year's worst legislator in the United States…

If Morse could tax the air we breathe, he probably would. So at the end of the last legislative session, he co-sponsored a bill that would have suspended Colorado's Amendment 64, the law that legalizes marijuana, unless voters approve a giant tax increase on pot.

Our readers will recall coverage of the resolution in question here, which had the shortest lifespan of any legislation we can remember–about three hours from introduction to demise as alarmed marijuana activists descended on the capitol. That has apparently (we didn't actually know this) led the Marijuana Policy Project, a respected pro-legalization thinktank, to label Morse "the worst legislator in the United States."

The robocalls hitting Democrats in Senate District 11 cite the MPP, but are paid for by a group linked to longtime GOP operative Patrick Davis, former National Republican Senatorial Committee political director–and who we can assure liberal Democrats has no interest in legalizing marijuana. A larger problem is that both MPP and the robocalls are flat wrong about that bill's purpose. Senate Concurrent Resolution 003 would not have "resulted in the repeal of a voter-approved initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol." None of the provisions legalizing personal possession and use of marijuana would have been affected. The resolution would have tied the opening of retail marijuana stores to the approval of the marijuana tax initiative headed for the ballot this November. As long as the tax initiative passed, the stores would be allowed to open. If not, well, they'd need to try again.

As we've said over and over about Amendment 64, the revenue opportunity is one of the big reasons pot is now legal. We believe it was a big part of motivating voters who were otherwise ambivalent about legalization.

Senator Morse said after the bill died that he introduced it to "get the attention" of the marijuana industry, which has been noncommittal to outright opposed to the tax initiative. The problem is that Amendment 64 was indeed not written in compliance with TABOR, which means the tax provisions built into the amendment are invalid–that's why the second initiative is necessary. Morse, simply put, was concerned about bad faith.

Those are the facts of what happened. We recognize that there are some who will read all of it and still disagree with Morse's short-lived proposal, and that's fine. The facts of this are not nearly what they're being represented to be by either pro-legalization advocates or opportunistic Republicans. And we think a full airing of the true facts would leave a lot of Democrats backing Morse–including plenty of pot smokers.

Hickenlooper To Kick Off School Finance Campaign Thursday

Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane!

Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!

The announcement went out from the Colorado Commits to Kids campaign moments ago–no word yet on how Gov. John Hickenlooper plans to arrive (see photo right), but regardless assuming the public face of the campaign to significantly revamp Colorado's income tax structure to properly fund the state's public education system:

Please join Gov. John Hickenlooper and supporters of the Colorado Commits to Kids campaign for our official kick-off on Thursday, August 15 at 1:00 p.m. Full details are below.
 
Colorado Commits to Kids is working to provide vital funding needed to improve our state’s schools and ensure a quality education for every child in Colorado…

Who: Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Commits to Kids supporters
What: Statewide Campaign Kick-off
Where: Green Mountain High School
13175 W. Green Mountain Dr.
Lakewood, CO 80228
When: 1:00 pm

Backers are glad to have Hickenlooper's persuasiveness on their side however it arrives, of course, but we're suckers for a good stunt. And Green Mountain High School's football field is big enough to land on, right?

“Colorado Commits to Kids” Turns In 160,000+ Signatures


Photo courtesy Colorado Commits to Kids

coloradocommitskidsThat's the news in a press release a short while ago from proponents of Initiative 22, the school finance ballot initiative headed for this year's statewide ballot with nearly double the required number of signatures:

Backers of the Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative on Monday turned in to the Colorado Secretary of State signatures from more than 160,000 people who support placing a school-finance measure on the November ballot.

“We’re not just delivering petitions today,” said Gail Klapper, director of the Colorado Forum, which has been working with business, civic and educational leaders for nearly two years to craft an initiative with broad, bipartisan support. “We’re delivering a message to our students and our businesses that Coloradans understand the best investment we can make in their economic futures is through our education system.”

The Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative will ask voters to approve a two-step state income-tax rate increase to pay for reforms that would make Colorado a national model for P-12 education…

Details after the jump. 

(more…)

School Finance Ballot Initiative Raises $1 Million

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Lawmakers passed legislation last session, hoping to change the way Colorado funds its schools, directing additional money to full-day kindergarten across the state and distributing more money per pupil to districts with higher percentages of at-risk students.

But none of it will take effect unless voters approve $950 million in new tax revenues to pay for it.

Initiative 22 would set a flat tax rate of 5 percent — up slightly from the current 4.6 percent rate — for all incomes of less than $75,000 a year.

But the proposal those earning more than that would see their income taxed at two different rates:  the 5 percent flat rate for income up to $75,000 annually and then a 5.9 percent rate for all earnings above that threshold.

And the Denver Post reports today:

Colorado Commits to Kids surpassed the $1 million mark in overall contributions with $739,250 taken in during the July reporting period. Combined with more than $260,000 raised in June, the effort moved to $1,081,550 primarily with the help of a few deep-pocketed donors.

The Post reports diverse funding sources for this campaign, ranging from Democrat Pat Stryker and Sam Gary of the Piton Foundation to the right-leaning education reform group Stand for Children. Along with backing from Gov. John Hickenlooper, Initiative 22's hefty war chest should underscore the seriousness of this effort compared to 2011's Proposition 103–which failed after attracting only tepid support. It's worth noting that some of the lack of support for Proposition 103, particularly on the left, can be attributed to concerns that it doesn't raise enough revenue to address the problem. This latest initiative is no "band-aid," but a real attempt to solve the longstanding and growing problem of paying for public education in Colorado.

And unlike two years ago, this campaign will have the resources it needs to succeed.