Tom Tancredo to Gov. Hickenlooper: ‘I’m challenging you to a debate’ on education tax initiative

Teacher Eve Brady instructs her 6th, 7th, and 8th grade humanities students at Englewood Leadership Academy. (The Denver Post)

Teacher Eve Brady instructs her 6th, 7th, and 8th grade humanities students at Englewood Leadership Academy. (The Denver Post)

It’s not even 2014 and former Congressman already wants to debate .

In a news release Monday, Tancredo, a Republican who in May threw his name into next year’s governors race, said he wants to debate Hickenlooper over a almost $1 billion increase to fund public schools. Backers of the initiative still must gather 86,00-plus signatures by Aug. 5 to get it on the November ballot, and Hickenlooper has voiced support for the increase.

“This is no time for ‘drive-by’ economic policies. A real leader should explain and clarify why he wants to reach further into the pockets of Coloradans. You can’t say you want to tax us all more and then ‘go dark.’” Tancredo, who served in the U.S. Department of under President George H.W. Bush, said in a statement.

But Hickenlooper hasn’t really went dark.

In an interview with The Post earlier this month, the governor said he would advocate for passage of the proposed two-tiered income tax by participating in discussions, talking with opponents and possibly making television and radio appearances.

“There have been a number of other tax increases that have been proposed and we have resisted it but, in this case, I think the benefits far outweigh the costs of increased taxes,” Hickenlooper said in the interview. “It’s a chance for Colorado to be the No. 1 state for public education in the U.S.”

“The governor enjoyed debating the Congressman on education policy matters during the 2010 election. We look forward to more lively debates once Republicans choose their nominee,” said Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown. “Until then, this bipartisan education initiative is too important to be used simply for political theater in the governor’s race.”

From the tax increase to the death penalty and the debate over gun-control in Colorado, Republicans are widely expected to assail the governor’s stances on these issues well into next year.

Tancredo, along with state Sen. , R-Wray, are each vying for the GOP nomination to challenge Hickenlooper in 2014. Other high profile names who have expressed interest in joining the primary field are Secretary of State Scott Gessler and Arapahoe County District Attorney .

Follow Kurtis on Twitter: @kurtisalee

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