2020 Election, Denver, Elections, Featured, Gold Dome, Sherrie Peif, Taxes

Progressive advocacy group comes out against Denver climate tax, state tobacco tax hike

DENVER — A far left-of-center organization that recently released its list of endorsements for various offices and issues likely put themselves on the opposite side of other progressive groups by opposing a couple of taxing measures, one statewide and one local to Denver, that will appear on the November ballot.

The Working Families Party (WFP), according to its Website, is “a progressive grassroots political party building a multiracial movement of working people to transform America.” And that wants “healthy food and clean water, safe neighborhoods and a safe world.”

The organization’s goal is to build a new political party. “We recruit and train people-powered candidates up and down the ballot and run them to win, often inside Democratic Party primaries,” its Website reads.

However, the group is urging a no vote on two tax increase measures: Proposition EE, a statewide tobacco and nicotine products tax hike referred to the ballot by the State Legislature, and, Denver’s “climate action” sales tax hike, referred by the Denver City Council.

AJ Springer, communications manager for WFP did not return request for comment from Complete Colorado.

The climate sales tax would raise 2.5 cents on every $10 spent on Denver retail and was sent to the ballot by the City Council shortly after release of an ambitious and expensive set of recommendations by Denver’s Climate Action Task Force, estimated to cost $200 million per year to implement.  Along with the sales tax increase, the report also recommends significantly increasing parking and car ownership fees.

According to a story in Denverite, a left-leaning digital news site, the money will go to “infrastructure and incentives that make Denver’s homes, buildings and streets more energy-efficient,” such as … “retrofitting buildings to emit fewer greenhouse gases while incentivizing cleaner energy sources like solar. They also see car-first roads becoming multi-modal streets that prioritize buses — from a carbon-free fleet — as well as bikes, electric bikes and electric cars.”

But according to Joshua Sharf, a Denver resident and 1st vice-chair with the Denver Republican Party, the recommendations are mostly symbolic. “With China planning to open hundreds of coal-fired power plants over the next decade, it’s ludicrous to think that making life more inconvenient and more expensive for the average Denverite is going to achieve any measurable change in global temperatures,” Sharf told Complete Colorado.

WFP’s position on the climate tax aligns the group with the lone no vote to send the issue to the ballot, Denver City Councilman Kevin Flynn, who believes the tax disproportionately hurts lower income residents.

Opponents say sales tax increases are unfair, as those with higher incomes don’t notice the change in percentage, but those on lower incomes do. A $100 purchase would cost everyone, regardless of income an extra quarter.  As Sharf notes, “Researchers across the political spectrum agree that sales taxes hit the poor and lower middle-class the hardest. Why should they be asked to subsidize the lifestyles of the Prius progressives?

Denverite quoted Flynn as saying the measure would be “settling” for a regressive sales tax. The climate tax measure would be “asking too much from our voters right now,” Denverite reported Flynn as saying.

Proposition EE, the tobacco tax measure, would significantly increase taxes on tobacco products, as well as establish a new tax on nicotine vaping products, eventually setting a minimum price of $7 for a pack of cigarettes.

As with the climate sales tax, opponents say the cost of the nicotine tax would fall hardest on those with lower incomes.

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