Debate wide-ranging, lively for governor hopefuls

John Hickenlooper, left and Dan Maes, candidates for governor, debate at the Club 20 fall meeting on Saturday.

Although supporters for Democrat John Hickenlooper and Republican Dan Maes got rowdy at times, both candidates agreed they had a lively debate Saturday at the Club 20 Fall Meeting at Two Rivers Conference Center.

From immigration to jobs to the appropriate size of state government, the two men outlined what was different between them, and what they agreed on.

While they agreed Colorado needs to protect its water and the farms that use it, both generated loud crowd response on their views over whether the state should mirror a controversial Arizona law on illegal immigration.

Maes said he would sign such a bill; Hickenlooper said it wouldn’t stand a chance under his administration.

“I don’t think we should have that kind of law in Colorado,” Hickenlooper said. “If we ended up arresting everyone that Dan thinks we should, you would have no room in any jail. You would have murderers ... on the street.”

While the Denver mayor said he opposed three controversial measures on this fall’s ballot to limit revenue and debt, Maes said he is backing at least one of them, Amendment 60, which would limit how much in property taxes local governments could assess.

“Democratic leadership needs to hear loud and clear how angry and how frustrated and how cheated the Colorado taxpayer feels on the conservative side,” Maes said. “I love the idea of tax cuts, but if I’m looking at a billion dollars shortfall in the next year, my fear is that these would add one to two billion more to take care of. Doing all three of them at the same time is very, very dangerous for our state, but I do support (Amendment 60).”

Opponents of the measures said that amendment would require the state to spend nearly all of its revenue on K-12 education, leaving virtually nothing for other vital programs, such as law enforcement and prisons.

Hickenlooper said the measures may seem appealing, but they would be far too damaging to state and local governments.

“If you don’t let communities borrow money ... how are you going to build a school or a fire station?” he said. “If you pull that much money out of the state budget with no landing pad, just dramatically in one year, what’s that going to do to our ability to provide opportunities for kids, or basic services?”

The two also talked about the state’s dwindling revenues and increasing mandates on spending.

While Hickenlooper said the state might be able to sell an increase in revenues if it can show an ability to cut spending, Maes said the state’s been too generous in spending, particularly for health care.

Maes drew hisses from some in the audience, however, when he suggested women are having babies intentionally just to stay on Medicaid.

“When a young woman who’s on Medicaid turns 18, do you know how she continues to be on Medicaid?” Maes asked. “She has a child out of wedlock.”


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