(Editor’s Note: The Business Journal asked the candidates at the local, state and national level their stances on business issues that affect Colorado Springs and the state. Their answers will be published online in the days leading up to the election. On Tuesday, we’ll bring you questions and answers from the Kit Roupe, Tony Exum race.)
In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet is seeking another term against challenger Darryl Glenn, an El Paso County Commissioner from District 1.
Bennet is a former school superintendent from Denver seeking another term in the U.S. Senate. He also worked for the city of Denver, and before that, he served as the managing director of the Anschutz Investment Co.
What do you think of the Colorado business climate? What needs to change?
Colorado is one of the best places in the country to start a business, but we still have work to do. We need to continue to update our infrastructure, lower health care costs, reform the federal tax code to incentivize innovation and make it easier to grow small businesses so that our outdoor recreation, renewable energy, scientific and agricultural industries can keep growing.
What issue important to businesses do you plan to tackle if elected?
There are several pieces of legislation I’d push to pass that would help our business communities in Colorado. I have a bipartisan bill to create an infrastructure bank that both creates jobs and makes investments in roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure. I also have legislation to boost our state’s liquefied natural gas industry by making it faster and easier to export. And I’m going to keep fighting to pass comprehensive immigration reform so that our farmers and ranchers can have a stable workforce.
In your view, what are the top industries in Colorado and how should we attract more and retain the businesses we have?
We need to protect the resources crucial to Colorado’s record-breaking outdoor recreation, energy, bioscience, aerospace and agricultural industries. I’ve worked across the aisle and with local communities to pass legislation that helps these industries continue to grow. To boost our outdoor recreation economy, we’ve permanently protected the natural treasures on which those businesses rely, like the Hermosa Creek Watershed and Browns Canyon. We extended wind and solar tax credits that support over 10,000 Colorado jobs, while also lifting the ban on crude oil exports. And I passed a bill that eliminated unnecessary FDA regulations to help our bioscience industry grow, while getting lifesaving medications to patients faster.
I worked across the aisle and with countless local leaders to write and pass a Farm Bill to keep our farms and ranches booming. Passing comprehensive immigration reform is also important so our agriculture industry can have a stable and safe workforce. As a member of the Gang of Eight, I worked closely for months with three other Democrats and four Republicans to craft a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Our bill passed the Senate with 68 votes, but fell victim to Washington dysfunction in the House of Representatives. Immigration reform continues to be one of my top priorities in the next session of Congress.
What can the state do to support business and economic development?
Small businesses make up 98 percent of employers in Colorado, and we need to make sure our state stays a great place to own and build a small business. I’ve worked to make sure the federal government enables our state to keep supporting business and economic development — whether by helping win a $15 million grant for expansion of I-25, helping found the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network to mentor those in emerging growth companies like aerospace and bioscience, or ensuring that federal regulation doesn’t get in the way of entrepreneurship. For example, we successfully got the administration to back off rules on spent grain that would have hurt our farms and breweries.
What infrastructure is needed to support business development?
We need to reform our tax system. We have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, but we collect a lot less revenue than most places because of tax loopholes and credits. We need a smarter tax code for the 21st century to build an environment that creates jobs and grows our economy. We also need to improve our physical infrastructure— including our roads, bridges and schools — to boost economic activity while creating good jobs.
Despite repeated attempts, no one from Glenn’s campaign responded to CSBJ.
From his website: “Representing over 655,000 Colorado residents, he has been a champion for the people of El Paso County, working tirelessly to stimulate innovation, provide sound fiscal management, and give a voice to his fellow Coloradans. Darryl previously served two elected terms on the Colorado Springs City Council and is a small business owner, working as an attorney for the Glenn Law Firm P.C.”
He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and spent 21 years in the Air Force, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Why he’s running: “America is at a crossroads. Parents are concerned about the economic burdens facing their children and grandchildren,” the website said. “Working families struggle with budgets that barely get them from one paycheck to the next. Government spending is out of control. Ever-increasing regulation threatens small businesses, and gaps in education make finding the right employees increasingly difficult. Americans nearing retirement fear for their savings and investments in Social Security.
“Meanwhile, the government continues to cut benefits for men and women in the military, law enforcement, and emergency services—the people we count on to keep this country safe, prosperous, and free. We have to do better than this.”
Glenn’s website includes two major business issues: tax reform and health care reform.
On tax reform, he says it’s vital to improving the economy. He advocates a fair or flat tax to replace the complex IRS code now in place.
“Real tax reform policy must recognize that the purpose of a tax system in a free society should be to fund services that are authorized by the Constitution. Taxes should not be used to redistribute wealth and fund unnecessary, ineffective programs,” the website said. “Our tax system must be transformed around two basic elements: simplicity and neutrality. We need to focus on adopting a fair or flat tax policy that positively impacts job creation and promotes innovation without penalizing personal savings and investments.”
On health care:
“The solution is clear: we must repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and start over to find something that works,” the website said. “My plan would be to free people of the unconstitutional burden of being mandated to purchase increasingly costly insurance or face a financial punishment from the government. Second, this law must be replaced with a more commonsense approach to healthcare that includes tort reform, permitting insurance to be purchased across state lines, and improving public health to decrease the demand for medical care.”