Colorado gov candidates vow to restore tax exemptions | AspenTimes.com

Colorado gov candidates vow to restore tax exemptions

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – Colorado’s top three gubernatorial candidates told business leaders Thursday that they will restore tax exemptions eliminated by Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter earlier this year.

Republican candidate Dan Maes, Democrat John Hickenlooper and American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo told the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry that the tax exemptions should be restored, though Hickenlooper said he would only do it when the budget allows it.

Tancredo drew groans from the crowd of 500 when he opened his remarks by offering a mock apology to the businesmen if their lunch was late or cold, saying they could blame him and his campaign against illegal immigration because “When (I) came into the room, we lost half of the wait staff and the kitchen staff.”

Donna Lipinski, an immigration lawyer based in Virginia who has debated Tancredo on immigration issues, said Tancredo’s remarks were inappropriate, especially with waiters standing around the room.

“He makes assumptions on how people look and he pigeonholes them into an occupation,” she said.

The bills signed by Democrat Bill Ritter that ended or suspended tax exemptions on things like online sales, takeout food containers and industrial energy bills to raise an estimated $130 million a year to help balance the budget have galled business leaders, who spent many hours at the Legislature fighting them, saying they would cost jobs.

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Tancredo said Denver under Hickenlooper’s administration raised taxes by $290 million and he said Hickenlooper isn’t sure when he can restore the tax breaks, raising costs for businesses. Tancredo said he would do it immediately.

“We’ve learned what not to do, raise taxes and fees during a recession,” he said.

Jim McGibney, president of First Century Development, said none of the candidates laid out a plan to help businesses that are struggling during the recession.

“I heard a lot of platitudes, but I didn’t hear a plan,” he said.