Colorado governor race: Hickenlooper, Beauprez, Hempy and Hess on the issues

Photo: Gubernatorial candidatesDemocratic Gov. John Hickenlooper is defending his post from challengers Libertarian Matthew Hess, the Green Party's Harry Hempy, and Republican Bob Beauprez.

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The candidates answered the following questions from CPR News about issues they may face.

Do you consider Connect for Health CO to be a success? Why or why not?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Four hundred and eleven thousand Coloradans now have insurance who did not have it before we passed bipartisan legislation creating the Colorado Health Exchange. This legislation was authored by Democratic State Senator Betty Boyd and Republican Majority Leader Amy Stephens in 2011. We worked closely with these legislators and consequently, Colorado is one of only two states in the country to pass legislation creating a state-based health exchange with bipartisan support. In part because of our bipartisan approach, implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado has been more successful than the national rollout. In fact, we have been ranked in the top five states among states for the biggest reduction in the rate of uninsured. Moreover, those Coloradans who had non-ACA compliant policies that were cancelled by their insurers were also given an opportunity to renew with better coverage. Given our track record of bipartisan support and effective implementation, I would consider Connect for Health CO to be a success. 
Harry Hempy (Green Party)Connect for Health CO adequately connected insurees with private, profit-making health insurers.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)No. It is far over budget and not constitutionally authorized.

Bob Beauprez (Republican)

Results are mixed at best. Clearly the initial implementation was handled very poorly. I am also greatly concerned that it is not seeing the number of sign-ups that it needs to remain viable. Even more disconcerting is the Medicaid expansion, which will be a financial disaster for the state. On top of all that, we have seen cancelled policies, often dramatic premium increases, and we are now starting to see the effects of the coming employer mandate. For instance, the University of Colorado has cut student workers' hours directly as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Some Colorado mountain counties saw the highest premium increases in the nation due to the ACA. To alleviate that problem, the state government simply looped more counties into their insurance district, so that we now have some rural western counties subsidizing health care for resort-based counties.
What will you do if the Legislature ignores recommendations from the new oil and gas task force? 
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)

We recently negotiated a compromise with the oil and gas industry and advocates in the conservation community that removed potentially harmful proposals from the 2014 ballot that would have put thousands of jobs at risk and would have had a devastating impact on our economy. As part of that compromise, we announced the creation of a bipartisan task force with civic leaders, industry, and community advocates. This task force will make policy recommendations we can consider to achieve a balance of economic and environmental interests.

While we are committed to making Colorado the most business friendly state in the country, we will not compromise our high expectations. We can continue to achieve economic success and foster business growth and development while holding ourselves to the highest standards. From establishing methane leakage rules, to fracking fluid disclosure rules, to the Amendment 64 Task Force, which informed legislation regulating recreational marijuana, we have a well-established track record of bringing different groups together to find solutions for our state that meet the needs of all affected parties. We are confident that the Legislature will respect the task force process and recommendations that come out of it as we seek to find common sense ways to allow the development of our natural resources while respecting the rights of homeowners. 

Harry Hempy (Green Party)The Governor's fracking committee will probably refuse to address climate change. The Governor has already charged the fracking committee to NOT DISCUSS air quality and water quality. It will recommend continued expansion of oil and gas operations, including destruction of Colorado water (turning it into fracking fluid) and continual emission of methane and toxic gases into the atmosphere. I certainly hope the Legislature will reject these recommendations. 
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)I would request Colorado Oil & Gas Association attempt to correct the issues with reporting so we may get accurate information to further the dialog.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)I am reluctant to encourage or impose any further regulations on this critical industry, which is already more heavily regulated here than in any other state. This task force is a solution in search of a problem, and is only contributing to an environment of uncertainty and unpredictability at a time when we should be fostering both.
What role should the state play in regulating oil and gas extraction in places like Weld County? 
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)

We believe that the right approach to addressing the issues surrounding fracking is to balance the rights of property owners to the quiet enjoyment of their homes and neighborhoods with the rights mineral owners have to develop their resources. This means having strong regulations protecting our environment while also developing the energy resources that represent a major sector of Colorado's economy. We must put safeguards in place to protect public health, while ensuring that regulation is not overly burdensome on the energy industry. Our efforts to bring the energy and environmental communities together to find smart solutions have resulted in the strongest fracking fluid disclosure rules in the country.

Colorado’s regulations have been called an international model for public disclosure. Earlier this year, I stood with the Environmental Defense Fund and Colorado’s three largest natural gas producers -- Encana, Noble and Anadarko -- to announce new air quality rules. These rules will greatly reduce smog and asthma causing emissions, but will also make Colorado the first state in the nation to directly regulate leakage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. We were also the first state that required water quality testing both before and after drilling, and the state adopted regulations requiring setbacks between drill sites and communities. 

Harry Hempy (Green Party)Statewide regulations should assure that oil and gas extraction does no harm to public health and the environment, assuming that non-polluting oil and gas extraction is even possible. Zoning of heavy industrial activity in municipalities should be controlled locally.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)Control should shift to local oversight for all except bans.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)The state has a responsibility to regulate the recovery of subsurface minerals, in order to ensure that they are developed in the safest and most efficient manner possible, and also to ensure protection of both surface and sub-surface property rights. I believe that regulation, in order to work properly, must foster stability and predictability, and that economic and regulatory decisions need to be made at the lowest feasible level, which in the case of oil and gas development means that regulation should stay at the state level – neither being made at the federal level, nor creating a patchwork of dozens or more regulatory environments around the state which will only dissuade investment and job creation.
Would you sign a bill asking the federal government to give ownership of public land back to the state?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)No. Our protected public lands are part of what makes Colorado special. Shifting the burden for maintaining and protecting those lands to the state would be expensive and irresponsible. Transferring ownership of this land would threaten sportsmen’s access, fire protection, and would shift millions of dollars of cost to state taxpayers. Like we have on the issue of Sage Grouse, we must work with other Western Governors to show Washington, DC why permitting for oil and gas development is so important and how states can make better decisions in this process.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)The state is selling off its public assets at a record pace. State revenue is inadequate for repairing and maintaining the transportation infrastructure, running the penal system, funding schools, providing reasonably-priced higher education. If Colorado took ownership of federal public lands there would be extraordinary pressure on the state to sell these lands – the people's land – to private interests. Given the state's revenue problems, I have more confidence in the federal government to keep public lands public. 
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)Yes and open the land up for local protection or homesteading.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)The premise of the question is too broad. I support a mechanism for transferring control over certain federally-managed multiple-use lands to the state, explicitly excluding national parks, national monuments, congressionally-designated wilderness and other protected areas, Department of Defense lands, and tribal lands. Transferring to state control some of the 8.3 million acres of multiple-use Bureau of Land Management land would improve access and productivity, resulting in a new funding stream for the state government. With millions of acres of dead trees on our public lands, we are one lightning strike or match away from creating a catastrophic wildfire in one of our critical watersheds. State management of these lands would improve forest health alongside economic benefits by allowing for the harvesting of some of this beetle-kill timber.
What should be done on a state level about climate change?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)In Colorado, we have seen evidence of climate change in the form of extreme drought, persistent wildfires, and extreme flooding. While a solution to this global issue will need to be addressed at the national and global levels, there are efforts that can be made at the state and local levels to ensure we all do our part. In many cases, transportation, waste-management, and infrastructure policies are set at the state and local levels, and in aggregate, can have a large impact on the progress we make in addressing climate change. Growing renewable energy jobs, promoting clean water standards and pushing for collaborative solutions for responsible energy development are critical to promoting and securing environmental standards for our state.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)The state can address climate change by accelerating the transition from the fossil fuel age to non-polluting, renewable energy. Specifically, level the playing field for renewables by ending state tax subsidies to the petroleum industry ($250,000+ per year). Convert state buildings and vehicles to be more energy efficient. Promote water conservation and reuse aggressively in the Colorado Water Plan, especially in cities in the South Platte and Arkansas River watersheds that divert water from the Western Slope.  
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)Regardless of whether the climate change argument is accecpted or not we should always be looking for ways to avoid state functions having a negative impct upon our environment.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)While change in climate is a complex and constantly evolving process, there are environmentally responsible practices that can and should be pursued at the state level. Colorado has some of the world’s cleanest, low-sulfur, low-mercury coal and coal technology, and exporting this exceptionally clean and abundant coal to emerging markets in Asia can help replace the far dirtier coal that those nations are using currently. We can also encourage entrepreneurs and innovators, as it is innovation – not government mandates – that is most effective in producing environmentally protective technologies and processes. What we should not do is hijack the cleanest economy in the world for the sake of purely political motivations.
What cuts would you make to Colorado's state budget?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Since day one, we’ve concentrated on making government more efficient, and figuring out how to do more with less. We have made cutting red tape one of our top priorities. We have reviewed more than 13,000 state regulations, and nearly 50 percent of these rules were improved or eliminated. This has made government leaner, and we can do more. When my administration took office, the state had a $1 billion deficit. Four years later, we’ve passed four balanced, bipartisan budgets and we have $650 million in reserves. 
Harry Hempy (Green Party)The Governor claims Colorado is the second most business friendly state in the country. I would end most corporate welfare programs in Colorado, including tax subsidies to the petroleum industry and tax subsidies intended to entice out-of-state and foreign corporations to move to Colorado. 
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)We should be standing up a fund for PERA pension buyouts and transition to individually managed 401k plans to limit our exposure to unfunded liabilities.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)The first place will be governor’s office, which grew exponentially during John Hickenlooper’s term, even during a recession where other budgets and departments were being cut to the bone. We will institute an audit of state government, in large part to identify specifically where cuts can be efficiently made. In terms of fiscal decisions, we will prioritize budget requests based on the proper role of government; that is, those functions that the government must take care of – public safety, public education, transportation and water infrastructure – will be funded first.
What can you do, as a governor, to address the fact that economic growth is mostly benefiting a small number of Coloradans?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)

In 2010, Colorado was hit hard by the recession. We were 40th in job growth, unemployment was 9.1 percent, and the state had a $1 billion budget deficit. In 2014, Colorado is 4th in the nation for job creation, unemployment is 5.1 percent and the state budget has $650 million in reserves. Business Insider now ranks Colorado as the number one fastest growing economy in the country. Most importantly, Colorado has created 200,000 news jobs, 90 percent of which are in the private sector. According to the US Census, median household income in Colorado has gone up about $1,200 between 2010 to 2013, and over the same time period, average household income has gone up $2,000. We have gotten here, to a firm foundation for continued, robust economic growth, together, which puts us in a tremendous position to get there, where economic growth spreads to every community in Colorado, together.

We must keep our economic momentum going by promoting advanced manufacturing and striking a balance between energy development and protecting our environment. We must also promote economic security to help Coloradans pay down their debt and save for retirement. That starts by partnering with the private sector to reduce the burden of student loans and make sure Coloradans have well paying jobs to pay off debt and save money for retirement. We have a proven track record of working with Coloradans to grow our economy despite natural disasters and an inherited recession, and we won’t stop until the economic recovery is felt in every corner of the state.

Harry Hempy (Green Party)In Colorado, real median income (the income most of us get) continues to fall: down 0.9 percent in 2013, down 7 percent since the bank crisis in 2007, down 11 percent since the turn of the century. 
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)I will push for the repeal of laws that introduce delay, regulations, and licenses that restrict competition and extract wealth from our economy. I am very concerned and actively advocate for an increase of skilled trade workers in Colorado to bolster our economic potential. I would like to see the state budget cut by 25 percent so we may eliminate the state income tax and leave families with the resources they need.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)First and foremost, be a governor for ALL of Colorado, and pay attention to the economic needs of all parts of the state, rather than continually enact policies that cause economic harm to those communities. All over the state, we need to reduce unnecessary and burdensome regulations in order to open up the economy and broaden opportunity for all Coloradans. 
What would you do to address the shortage of affordable housing in the state?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Colorado’s housing prices have caught up to and even exceeded pre-recession levels, however in many areas of the state, affordable housing is in short supply. This deficit of affordable housing in Colorado is an important issue that deserves proper consideration. We aim to bring stakeholders together to address the issue of construction defects and seek out legislation that all sides can agree to. It is my hope to see bipartisan legislation with broad support from all stakeholders that addresses this issue next session.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)I wish I had a good answer to the shortage of affordable housing and ever-increasing homelessness. Dry, warm shelter is a fundamental human right. Colorado should consider public housing and rent control. 
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)I advocate for the elimination of government interference with private development. Such interference causes artificially higher prices and reduces the availability of lower cost housing units.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)Unlike my opponent, I would work to repair our construction defects law, which has had the direct result of limiting the construction of condominiums in the state. Condominium construction accounts for less than 2 percent of the residential real estate market in Colorado, versus 20 percent nationwide. This essentially eliminates an entire category of low-cost housing as an option for Coloradans, which has made housing less affordable. This is an issue that must be addressed.
What should the state do to lower the child poverty rate in Colorado?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)

For the first time in five years, the rate of child poverty declined in Colorado. Between 2012 and 2013, Colorado’s decline marked the sixth largest decline of all states, which equates to about 17,000 fewer children living in poverty in our state. As we continue to pull out of this slow recovery from the recession, we must do everything we can to ensure every child has the same opportunity to succeed no matter their zip code. This means opportunities in education, health, nutrition, transportation, college access, and beyond. We’re committed to making sure these essentials are available to every child.

Our office partnered with Hunger Free Colorado and Share Our Strength to form No Kid Hungry Colorado, a public-private partnership to ensure children have nutritious food at home, at school, and in their communities with the goal to end childhood hunger. By supporting programs like this and others, and finding innovative funding strategies and community partners, we can continue to reduce the child poverty rate in Colorado so every child has an equal shot at success.

Harry Hempy (Green Party)Raise the minimum wage, first and foremost. Maintain and improve child welfare programs such as the school lunch program. Hunger and poverty devastate children's ability to learn.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)Reduce taxation and leave families resources at their own disposal so that they may better improve their own situations.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)

Child poverty has grown at a tragic rate in Colorado over the last several years. Lifting a child out of poverty takes a robust economy with full employment. We need to create a business climate throughout this state that is more conducive to investing and creating jobs; starting with a more stable, predictable regulatory environment. Growing the economy and adding good-paying, full-time jobs will bring many more families and children out of poverty than any government program. Education is another key to fighting poverty. As governor I will promote career technical education so more people can develop career-ready skills, and I will focus on third grade reading levels, the establishment of opportunity scholarships that parents can use to supplement or expand educational options – from reading tutors, to additional STEM instruction, to music programs – and increased parental involvement and local control.

Do you support raising the state minimum wage?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Colorado has a constitutional amendment that automatically indexes our state minimum wage to inflation levels and a cost of living formula. I would be supportive of a minimum wage increase at a federal level, provided it included certain caveats for things like tip earners and young people just entering the workforce.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)I support raising the state minimum wage to at least $11 per hour. Equally important, I support the right of towns and cities to establish a living wage appropriate to the local cost of living.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)No, I want kids to be able to get apprenticeships right out of high school and the higher the minimum wage is the greater the barrier is for entry into skilled trades.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)No, our state Constitution already has minimum wage indexed to inflation. Unfortunately studies and economic analyses show that arbitrary minimum wage increases mostly hurt the very people they are supposed to help. Minimum wage generally applies to tight-margin industries, and an increase is an additional cost that the business owner must cover by either raising prices or cutting workers. Since raising prices in such industries most often results in pricing one's business out of the market, the most common result of minimum wage hikes is increased unemployment, especially among entry level and low-skilled workers.
How can Colorado work with neighboring states and the federal government to stop marijuana trafficking?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)

Like my colleagues in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and around the country, I’m firmly committed to combating the illegal trafficking of drugs – including marijuana which, while legal in Colorado, is illegal in all of Colorado’s neighbor states and at the federal level. The first step to stopping out-of-state marijuana diversion is being clear about how big of a problem we have with marijuana being shipped over our border. Since the state has only had legal marijuana since January, it is too soon to say anything with absolute certainty.

In 2012, however, more than 2 million pounds of marijuana were seized crossing the Mexican border into the U.S., compared to 7,008 pounds of Colorado marijuana seized across state lines. That said, data from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area suggest that seizures of Colorado marijuana in other states have been increasing since 2005. In 2012, there were 274 interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana bound for other states – compared to 54 back in 2005. This may be the result of increased access to marijuana, but it may simply be a sign of increased enforcement efforts from bordering states.

One of the first things we need to do to address the diversion problem is to determine its scope by gathering better information on what is leaving the state and how. Last legislative session, I proposed funding two analysts in the Colorado State Patrol that would work with local jurisdictions, border states, and the federal government to gather these exact data. Unfortunately, that proposal was not funded by the legislature. However, as the question of out-of-state diversion continues to grow in line with the implementation of Amendment 64, I plan to resubmit this budget request. The data collected will be immediately actionable – allowing state, local, and federal law enforcement to crack down on any illegal diversion as it happens.

What we do know, however, is that one of the most effective ways to prevent the trafficking of Colorado marijuana is ensuring a tightly controlled system in the legal market. As part of our robust regulatory and enforcement system, every single plant grown by licensed and vetted marijuana growers has to be fitted with a unique radio frequency identifier tag that follows it from seed to sale. Growers, in turn, are required to log every single action taken with the plant – whether it was cut up and put in an edible, used to create flower, or thrown away because of mold. The Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division monitors everything every step of the way, identifying and acting on suspicious activity. That’s how we prevent marijuana businesses from moving their product out of the back door and into the black market.

On the buyer’s side, we allow Colorado residents to buy up to an ounce of marijuana product. Out-of-state residents, in turn, can only purchase ¼ of an ounce. And I’ve made training members of local law enforcement on the state’s new marijuana laws a priority, so they too can identify suspicious and illegal activity. I think it’s important to remember that we’re ten months in to a grand experiment the world has never seen before – the legal, regulated, and taxed sale of marijuana for recreational purposes. It’s too soon to fully understand what our challenges will be moving forward, or how to address them.

What’s important is my commitment to doing what the people of Colorado told me to do: Implementing Amendment 64 while ensuring that we’re keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, keeping our streets safe, and making sure we all remain healthy. There’s no question that preventing out-of-state diversion is a challenge critical to the continued success of this experiment, and I look forward to continued work with stakeholders from across the state and country to tackle it. 

Harry Hempy (Green Party)This is the easiest question! By letting Coloradans grow marijuana without restriction, demand for marijuana from other states or countries will disappear. If all states do the same, marijuana cartels will be out of business.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)Neighboring states will begin to legalize marijuana usage and this will become a non-issue and require no interference from Colorado. When we repealed prohibition of alcohol similar issues were raised and solved in the same way.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, and as governor I will commit to enforcing Colorado's laws and protecting the peoples' rights. However, we have a responsibility to fully understand and adequately address the consequences, intended and otherwise, of public policy decisions, and we especially have a duty to protect children and prevent trafficking, which is still illegal. Mainly we need to make sure that local law enforcement has the resources it needs to deal with situations that may arise from the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, and ensure appropriate regulations are in place. We also need to educate our citizens about the risks and hazards of overuse of marijuana.
Should the state government add or remove restrictions on the sale or possession of firearms? 
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)I strongly supported legislation creating universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals because we know that background checks work. In 2013 alone, more than 7,000 gun sales were denied to those who could not pass a background check. Colorado also passed legislation on the sale of new magazines, essentially requiring shooters to re-load with a magazine after 15 rounds. Studies show that high capacity magazines were used in 31 percent to 41 percent of police officer homicides nationwide between 1994-2003. On balance, I believe this legislation makes sense and will, over time, contribute to making our streets safer while also respecting rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Often overlooked in this discussion was our successful effort to improve the state’s mental health response system.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)The second amendment cites the need for a well-trained militia. I support state regulation of firearms, just like state regulation of automobiles. Guns and automobiles can both be lethal. Demonstrating basic competence and understanding of the law is a reasonable precondition for operating either one.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)The recent laws passed have done nothing but criminalize a larger portion of our population. We should repeal the recent laws passed and follow the constitution on this and all other matters.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)Colorado doesn't need more gun control. It is undeniable that the gun restrictions signed by John Hickenlooper last year are unworkable, needlessly restrictive of citizens' rights, and do nothing to curb violence and crime. If a law or regulation limits freedom for no legitimate end, it needs to be removed through the appropriate legislative process. Public safety concerns need to be addressed by consulting with public safety professionals – sheriffs, police, district attorneys, and corrections and parole professionals – something the current governor has not done. This blind spot towards public safety has resulted in the serious detriment of our criminal justice system and the safety of our neighborhoods.
Do you support or oppose legalized abortion? Are there any exceptions?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)I support a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions. There has never been any question in my mind that our policy goal should be to make abortions safe, available but rare. Unwanted pregnancies are what we should work to discourage. Teen pregnancies have dropped in Colorado by 40 percent thanks to a pilot program giving women the option of receiving free, long-acting, reversible contraception. That same program reduced teen abortion by 35 percent in the counties served by this program. My opponent supported personhood legislation that would outlaw common forms of birth control and similar proposals that would outlaw abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. I think that point of view is fundamentally wrong.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)I support legalized abortion. In the interest of making abortion as rare as possible, I encourage birth control and family planning by both women and men. 
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)While I am pro-life I am advocating a concept called evictionism to get people thinking differently about the issue. We can both support a woman's right over her own body while preserving life if we try to work together.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)I am pro life, and my record reflects that. As a practicing Catholic, I believe life begins at conception, but I respect others who have a reached different conclusion than my wife and I have on this difficult and personal subject. The relevant policy question for a governor is about state funding, and I, along with majority of Coloradans, simply believe that abortion – among many other things – should not be funded by taxpayers.
Do you support Colorado's death penalty?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)I am opposed to the death penalty. After studying this issue in detail, I think the facts are pretty clear that the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, nor is it cost-effective. My conscience compels me to the conclusion that the State of Colorado should not be in the business of taking human lives. 
Harry Hempy (Green Party)I have always opposed the death penalty. I respect the stance against capital punishment taken by most civilized countries. I am happy the Governor has come out against capital punishment but I wish his rationale had more to do with respect for human life than economic arguments about the cost of legally killing a person.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)History has witnessed warlords and brutes rise to power on promises of killing other people if only they were in charge. I find the practice of promising death in exchange for support of a candidate detestable. As long as this remains a heavily politicized issue I do not support it.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)In the instance of the most heinous crimes, I believe capital punishment needs to remain an option. This is a difficult decision, probably the most somber and important one that a governor can make, and not one that should be arrived at lightly. Colorado has a good, deliberative process for determining when the death penalty is appropriate. As difficult as it is for a governor to uphold the decision, it is infinitely more difficult for the jurors who decide to impose the penalty. I believe a governor has a duty to respect those jurors, the system, the victims, and the victims' families.
Do you support legal same-sex marriage?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Yes.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)Yes, of course.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)People should not need the permission of a bureaucrat or elected official to marry. I believe that government has no business being involved in marriage and I support the right of a person to marry regardless of personal orientation.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)As governor I will be sworn to enforce and implement the law of the land, and due to the Supreme Court's recent decision, same sex marriage is now legal in Colorado. I believe the attorney general did right thing at every stage, enforcing the law as it stood. I was also one of the few Republicans who supported civil unions. We do need to ensure First Amendment protections remain in place for individuals, churches and businesses, to ensure that their civil rights are not violated.
What changes would you make to Colorado's tax code?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Under TABOR, changes to the tax code require the vote and consent of the people.
Harry Hempy (Green Party)Colorado's tax code (fiscal policy) is a bunch of patches – unnatural acts undertaken in response to passage of the slumlord's bill of rights (aka TABOR) that has sent Colorado's revenue into a downward spiral. Education, for example, is now funded by lottery tickets, marijuana use, and gambling. Our property taxes are among the lowest in the nation. Income tax rates are on the low side and are not structured progressively. Colorado is probably over-dependent on regressive sales taxes. We need to start over on tax policy.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)I would like to see an elimination of the income tax in Colorado along with business use taxes. Both extract wealth and reduce prosperity within Colorado.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)A primary objective of our audit will be to identify opportunities for tax relief. I will make it a priority to protect the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which has served the state well in keeping tax rates low and preventing the accumulation of debt. Another priority will be to retain Colorado's relatively flat income tax, identify ways to make it flatter and simpler, and to ultimately reduce the rate and eliminate tax manipulations in the code. 
What kind of long-term solution do you want to see to the ever-present education funding crisis in Colorado?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Colorado is ranked No. 1 in the country for workforce, due in large part to the state’s highly educated population. Vital to Colorado’s continued economic success is a strong public education system that fosters home grown talent. Thanks to smart budgeting and tough choices in our first term, we have increased K-12 education funding by $400 million and higher education funding by $100 million. The question we should be asking is not whether the funding level for education is too high, too low or just right. It should be whether the money we are spending gets into the classroom and is spent effectively to educate children and prepare them for being good and productive citizens. That is why reforms and support for teachers is so important. We continue to champion accountability and effectiveness that has made Colorado a national model. We passed a law that means Colorado 3rd graders will not be passed along to the next grade without a check on their reading sufficiency -- another reform that has attracted national attention. We have also made it much easier for parents to access information on how their children's school and school district spend funds. 
Harry Hempy (Green Party)Colorado must stop funding profit-making, private education corporations.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)Competition is the only real answer left to providing better quality education at affordable rates. Private voucher systems can enable the growth of private schools and will provide a significant return for Colorado's future.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)I will first ensure that we are maximizing our existing funding streams, starting with getting back from Washington the education tax dollars we sent there and to which we are entitled to see come back as block grants. In addition, I will see to it that we are making the most efficient and productive use of our School Trust Lands, public acres specifically set aside to generate revenue for K-12 education. Opportunity Scholarship Funds are also a way to attract private investment into education, to supplement the state funding.
What can you do as governor to support comprehensive immigration reform?
John Hickenlooper (Democrat)Passing comprehensive immigration reform is the responsibility of the U.S. Congress to undertake. Since Washington, DC has failed to act on this issue, states like Colorado are engaged in a number of ways. Democrats and Republicans have worked together to pass legislation to ensure that talented undocumented kids who graduated from Colorado high schools have a means to continue their education and be productive participants in our community. We participated in the creation of the Colorado Compact - a bipartisan effort designed to create consensus in communities across the state on the need for a rational approach to immigration reform. In my work with both the Western Governor's Association and the National Governor's Association, I have been vocal in my support for elevating immigration as a topic of bipartisan consensus, elements of which include: (1) strengthening border security, (2) authorizing an effective guest worker system, (3) penalties for employers who violate the law, and (4) a secure identification system. 
Harry Hempy (Green Party)I can raise awareness that the furor over immigration comes from discrimination based on skin color. Do you know, after Mexico, which country supplies the most immigrants to the United States? It is Canada. Why don't we hear cries about closing the Canadian border? Deporting Canadians? If you can think of any reason other than skin color, I'd like to hear it.
Matthew Hess (Libertarian)I would like to see an elimination of payroll taxes in Colorado to restore equality of opportunity and eliminate the economic incentives for hiring immigrants over citizens.
Bob Beauprez (Republican)Work with other governors to push for reform from the federal government. Meaningful immigration reform needs to be done in stages. First, secure the border. Second, reform the legal immigration system to simplify, streamline, and modernize it in such a way that allows people to come to this country legally and without the bureaucratic obstacles and waiting times that currently serve to encourage illegal immigration. Third, provide a mechanism for people who are here illegally to come out of the shadows, pay a restitution, and enter into a new, simplified legal immigration system.

Other unaffiliated candidates in the race are Marcus Giavanni, Paul Noel Fiorino and Mike Dunafon.