Polis And Stapleton On The Biggest Problems Facing Colorado

Photo: Denver Skyline | Seen From Mile High Stadium - AP
Skyline of the city of Denver from a parking lot at Sports Authority Field, Sept. 1, 2017.

What’s the biggest problem facing Colorado? Ahead of Tuesday’s primary vote, Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner asked that question of all eight Democrats and Republicans running to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Now that we know Republican Walker Stapleton and Democrat Jared Polis have won their respective party nominations and will face each other in November, here’s a look at what they told us.

Polis on the biggest problem facing Colorado:

The frustration that I hear from so many people, not just in the Denver metro area, frankly across our state, is yes, most people have a job, unemployment's low. But people say, "Look, I've gotten a 2 percent, a 3 percent raise a year, but my cost of living's gone up 10 percent or 15 percent.” “My rent," or, "my mortgage," or, "my kids can't afford to go to college or buy a home." So it's this overall frustration that this economic growth just hasn't worked for everybody. That's why we focus on how we can raise incomes, really across the whole continuum in Colorado, and also make meaningful contributions on reducing costs with more affordable housing closer to where people work.”

How does a governor raise incomes?

“So a couple ideas. First of all, I support letting local communities set their own minimum wage, above the state minimum wage, that allows communities to reflect the local labor market in higher cost-of-living areas like Denver, or like the mountain communities, or like Fort Collins or Boulder. In addition, I talk a lot about employee ownership models, meaning EAS ops, co-ops, stock options. The companies that I started, like ProFlowers, every employee got stock options, whether they were answering phones taking flower orders, or whether they were programmers. I kicked off my campaign at Save-A-Lot grocery store in Colorado Springs, and there's some in the Denver metro area as well. It's a 100 percent employee-owned grocery store. So we want to remove barriers to implementing real meaningful models, making sure that the people who work and create value actually share in that value.”

Stapleton on the biggest problem facing Colorado:

"I think it's infrastructure. I think everybody is impacted by traffic, and anybody that wants to have more family time with loved ones, anybody that wants to be more efficient in a professional context, has been impacted by our infrastructure problems in the state, which have really grown exponentially as the population has increased by more than a million people over the last decade.

Does he support bonding or tax proposal to pay for roads and transit?

"I support the bonding proposal. I do not support the sales tax proposal in its current form. I believe the department can and should do more. I believe we have dedicated sources of revenue in the general fund that we could and should be using for further bonding for our roads and infrastructure. And before you actually ask government to be an equal player, or a large player, in spending when it comes to our infrastructure needs, I believe asking voters for a tax increase is the cart before the horse, and if you look, it has not worked when it's been referred to the ballots."

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