Rep. King, Konola quarrel over taxes

The two candidates for Colorado Senate District 7 quarreled Tuesday over taxes and lending, but they grudgingly agreed the Western Slope economy remains underpinned by its energy resources.

State Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, and Claudette Konola, his Democratic opponent, followed their fireworks-filled appearance last weekend during Club 20’s fall meeting with a series of broadsides before a forum sponsored by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce.

At the heart of one disagreement is a plank of Konola’s campaign calling for the reinvigoration of the western Colorado economy using the U.S. Treasury Department’s New Market Credit Program. Under the program, individuals can receive income-tax credits for certain investments in community development entities. Those investments are to be used in low-income communities.

Konola said her expertise of 40 years in financing in the private sector and more recently with the not-for-profit Community Reinvestment Fund has translated into the creation of 40,000 jobs nationwide.

“I’m not about increasing taxes,” Konola told about 20 people at the breakfast forum. “I want to enhance small business’ ability to access capital,” as well as encourage public-private partnerships.

King said Konola’s approach was far from a free-market capitalism.

“She is interested in Colorado businesses borrowing money,” King said, “and I am interested in Colorado businesses making money.”

Both candidates said the natural gas industry is important to the state, as is coal.

“I do think that maybe coal has been thrown under the bus,” Konola said, citing the low-pollutant qualities of Colorado coal.

Technologies such as coal gasification and liquefication remain about three to four years off, and they still need to be pursued, King said.

Colorado’s business climate remains positive and is rated the third best in the nation, Konola said, crediting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment for keeping the state’s taxes low.

The gas industry remains hamstrung by fears of additional regulation, King said.

“The trouble is that the industry has no confidence that Colorado is not going to change the rules again,” King said.


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