Talk-show host should clarify what “things” merit a tax increase, in candidate’s mind

In a run-of-the-mill interview Friday on KFKA radio’s “AM Colorado,” State House candidate Skip Carlson made this off-hand comment to hosts Devon Lentz and Tom Lucero:

“Do we need additional taxes? Unlike a lot of Republicans, I think we do on some things,” Carlson told Lucero, as an aside. “We just have to be careful. First of all, let’s make sure we are spending our taxes correctly. Then, let’s fix the infrastructure that needs to be fixed now, so that our children don’t have to pay for it later.”

Some Republican talk show hosts, like Lucero, would have simply ignored Carlson’s comment on the taboo topic of favoring a tax increase.

Other GOP hosts would have tried to talk Carlson out of it, saying something like, “Are you crazy? My entire audience and my Republican co-host will hate you if you really mean that.”

But Lucero, a former CU Regent, took the gentler approach of trying to clarify things. He just wanted to make sure the facts were on the table.

So he asked Carlson, whose running for House District 50, a clarifying question:

LUCERO: So the state legislature is required to prioritize on spending. Your number one priority is to figure out how we prioritize, how we get the [in]efficiencies out of government. And at that point, after you’re done going through it, you’re unsatisfied that we have the resources necessary, you would support raising taxes?

CARLSON: Oh, yeah! I mean, this is — that’s business. I’m in business.


CARLSON: I ran my business, you’ve run a business. You get up to a certain point and you say, “Okay, business has gone so far with this. Do I have to increase my investment for my business to go even higher, to become even better?” And you say, “I can spend this now, and it will cost me a lot less than spending it later.” We have to, however, be very, very careful about that—very diligent about it and see to it that we don’t have the waste before, to start with.

I appreciate Lucero’s approach. He didn’t jump all over Carlson. He didn’t hyperventilate. He didn’t even let his own opinion be known. He tried to get it straight.

But, still, Lucero didn’t clarify the situation well enough for me.

Lucero should have asked, specifically, what “things” Carlson thinks we need to raise taxes on. Carlson stated that there are, right now, unnamed things that need funding through new taxes. At least that’s how I hear his statement.

[Listen here: Skip Carlson discusses taxes on KFKA AM Colorado 8-31-2012]

It sounds like bridge and highway repairs are two of those things, since Carlson’s comment about taxes came up in the context of the FASTER bill, which raised vehicle registration fees to pay for highway and bridge repair.

Asked by Lentz if he’d repeal FASTER, Carlson said, “Absolutely! I mean, if it’s going to be a tax, let’s make it a tax!”

So for Carlson, you’d guess that basic safety upgrades on roads and bridges might merit a tax increase. But what else?

This would make for a good conversation next time Carlson is on AM Colorado.

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