Pueblo debate: Polis lays out agenda; Stapleton demands to see the price
Author: The Pueblo Chieftain - October 8, 2018 - Updated: October 9, 2018
By Peter Roper, The Pueblo Chieftain
PUEBLO — Republican Colorado state Treasurer Walker Stapleton’s clear goal was to call U.S. Rep. Jared Polis “radical and extreme” as many times as possible in their hour-long gubernatorial debate Monday night at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
It was the candidates’ fourth debate since Friday in a series of eight scheduled through Oct. 23. (CLICK HERE for the full schedule.)
Polis, the Boulder Democrat, didn’t bristle at the steady barrage from Stapleton, but neither did he answer it with what the GOP candidate demanded — details on how Polis intends to pay for an ambitious agenda that includes affordable health care, free pre-school and kindergarten classes.
Polis, who is a multi-millionaire from starting and selling companies, said he would work as governor to lower prescription drug prices, find other solutions in providing better care and could even work with President Donald Trump.
“The time for name-calling is passed,” he told Stapleton, who clearly didn’t think so.
“If you will tell these people how you will pay for it, I’ll stop calling you a radical,” Stapleton shot back.
Polis denied he was either radical or extreme, saying Oklahoma provides free pre-school to students. “And if Oklahoma can do it, we can do it.”
There were about 200 people in the college’s Occhiato Student Center to hear them Monday night.
On the question of better roads, Polis said he’d worked with Republicans in Congress to get more money for Colorado interstates and that he’s also supported more funding for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief rail line across Southern Colorado.
Stapleton said he’d work to find more money for roads, but warned the audience that Polis’ agenda for health care, schools and other goals would dry up any money for better highways with $90 billion in new spending.
Polis said Coloradans wanted to improve their lives and his agenda was intended to do it. “The question is, where will we be in 10 years?” he said.
When Stapleton attacked him for supporting California emission standards for cars in Colorado, Polis agreed that he did.
“Clean air is important, saving money on gas is important,” he answered, while Stapleton declared those standards will add $5,000 to the price of vehicles.
He also charged that Polis’s goal of having the state become entirely reliant on renewable energy by 2040 would be costly to ratepayers and unattainable.
“Even Governor [John] Hickenlooper has called your energy plan radical,” he said.
Polis countered that Pueblo has already pledged to become 100 percent reliant on renewable by 2035, and “Xcel Energy will tell you today that new wind energy will save you 20 percent.”
On protecting schools and the public from mass shootings, Polis said he would ensure schools had a single entry point, more counseling for students and a “red-flag” law that would let a judge temporarily confiscate guns from someone having a mental health crisis.
But he endorsed the Second Amendment, too.
Stapleton said he’d require a public safety officer in every school and requiring health care professionals to inform law enforcement if a patient or someone was a danger.
But he criticized Polis for supporting gun-control laws in 2013 that limited magazine sizes and more background checks.