Jun 16, 2021 - News

Colorado business leaders blast Democrats for "politics, not policy"

Gov. Jared Polis at the Colorado State Capitol Building on Feb. 17.

Gov. Jared Polis at the Colorado state Capitol on Feb. 17. Photo: AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images

In no uncertain terms, Denver's top business leader on Tuesday described the just-finished legislative session as a debacle for companies.

Driving the news: In her final address of its kind before she steps down, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Brough said that Gov. Jared Polis and the General Assembly's Democratic majority focused on "politics not policy," calling it the "luxury of single-party control."

  • The business community's main grievances are related to the elimination of a handful of business and other tax breaks, new health care cost mandates, new plastic and polystyrene bans and more environmental regulations.

Brough's other lightning-bolt remarks:

  • On a bill to eliminate some tax breaks, including capping deductions on 529 college savings plans, lawmakers "sent a clear message that it is more important for this money to be spent by our legislature than by nonprofits and parents."
  • "They also made doing business here more complicated and more expensive."
  • "The winners-and-losers game being played on every floor of the Capitol is a costly one."

What's more: J.J. Ament, the CEO of Metro Denver Economic Development, added later that corporate executives are expressing concern about locating in Colorado given the state's policy direction.

  • Mowa Haile, president of Sky Blue Builders, added that he'd "think twice about starting" his business in the current regulatory climate.

The other side: Speaking just before the business leaders at the event, Polis touted the session as "nothing short of transformative."

Afterward, House Speaker Alec Garnett (D-Denver) told Axios that the criticism was "a bit out of touch."

  • He said lawmakers focused on helping businesses most impacted by the pandemic and delivered a $5 billion transportation and environmental bill after years of deadlock among business leaders.
  • "The legislature stepped up and delivered on what the business community couldn't do," Garnett added.

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