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Hick weighs in again on ballot measure; Ciruli opines

While petition circulators continue their hunt for signatures, Gov. John Hickenlooper and a well-known political analyst weighed in Wednesday on the proposed $950 million tax increase for K-12 education.

Some recent opaque or ambivalent Hickenlooper comments about the plan have sparked a bit of does-he-or-doesn’t-he speculation and needling by reporters and conservative opponents of the plan.

Hickenlooper spoke Wednesday with members of Colorado Forum, the business group that largely got the ballot measure plan rolling. Forum leaders later circulated a list of people willing to talk about the meeting and vouch for the governor’s support of the plan.

“I know he has been wrestling with it for some time, talking to a lot of folks and reading and re-reading but he came out very strongly and very positively in support of the reforms and of the necessary taxing to do it.” Dan Ritchie, chairman and CEO of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, told The Denver Post. “He’s willing to take the leadership as I understood him,” Ritchie said.

Meeting with reporters on June 5, Hickenlooper said he was “ambivalent” about which K-12 tax plan to support (see story). Colorado Forum originally proposed 16 variations and didn’t settle on one last month. That comment and others since then have triggered all the speculation.

But the governor was pretty definitive way back on May 21, when the signed Senate Bill 13-213, the new education funding system that will go into effect only if the tax proposal makes the ballot and passes. “I will certainly campaign for it when we decide what it is,” he said (see story). Get more details about all twists and turns leading to the proposed ballot measure in the EdNews archive.

Key ballot measure backers who have ties to the governor also have been privately saying for weeks that the governor is onboard the effort.

While much of the discussion about the ballot measure obviously has focused on its importance for education, well-known pollster and commentator Floyd Ciruli had a broader take on the issue in a blog post Wednesday.

“More importantly for the political landscape, if it wins, it will signal the new progressive era in Colorado that began in 2004 is secure and moving forward. But if it loses, it will be a major setback for Democrats and tax spending advocates. Transportation, higher education and a myriad of ‘needs’ are waiting in line for voter approval,” Ciruli wrote (read full post).

Ciruli predicts “They will get their signatures” and “They will spend record amounts to pass the tax” before warning, “Statewide taxes are difficult to pass, and this will be a low-turnout election.”

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