By Cynthia Pasquale
Colorado’s candidates for governor on Nov. 6 have starkly different views on how to move the state forward.
Jared Polis, 43, a five-term congressman, is a progressive Democrat who wants to make the state completely reliant on renewable energy by 2040.
Walker Stapleton, 44, is a fiscally conservative two-term state treasurer. He has defended the oil and gas industry as an important part of the state economy that doesn’t need more regulation.
Both candidates answered emailed questions about issues important to Coloradans.
State leaders disagree on how to pay to fix congested, failing roads and bridges. Stapleton said raising taxes isn’t necessary and the Colorado Department of Transportation should be accountable for how tax dollars are spent: “It will require our government to be more responsible with our administrative budgeting across the board.”
Polis would create a statewide plan that includes a commuter line between Fort Collins and Pueblo: “I will work to create strong partnerships between public transportation agencies, ride-share companies and taxicab companies to make sure older adults can easily get to and from the nearest transportation option.”
AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE
In Congress, Polis has pushed for universal health care. “Health care is a human right. No one should have to choose between their rent or mortgage and their medications.”
He would address high prescription drug costs by having pharmaceutical companies disclose more information and justify price hikes and by allowing Americans to buy medications imported from Canada.
Stapleton has said he would dismantle Colorado’s health care exchange. “We have the tools within government to work with the private sector to bring down costs.” He favors diverting less pressing Medicaid cases from emergency rooms to neighborhood clinics.
Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) prohibits tax hikes without voter approval and limits government spending.
Stapleton said TABOR “has led to more accountability and responsibility from our legislature and helps keep our government right-sized for the economy.”
Polis wants to tackle the funding constraints created by TABOR to provide more money for public schools and infrastructure.
“The unaffordable cost of home care and housing makes it hard for many older adults to age in the communities they love,” Polis said.
He wants to make it easier to get waivers for in-home care through Medicaid to help people stay in their homes. He also wants to help low-income residents by making sure a tax break for property taxes, rent and heat keeps up with inflation.
Stapleton sees affordable housing as “an indispensable part of economic development for the future of this state.” He said laws that protect consumers from defective construction have had a negative impact on increasing affordable-housing options. Increasing affordable housing should be led by the private sector or a partnership between builders and the state, he said.
Cynthia Pasquale is a writer living in Denver.