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Colorado candidate for governor Heidi Ganahl lacks concrete plans to back up promises on taxes

Republican candidate for Governor Heidi Ganahl says she wants to get rid of the state income tax and cut the gas tax in half, but still fix roads. How?

DENVER — August 9 is a day Colorado Republicans have set aside for party platform announcements.

Colorado republican candidates and elected leaders held a news conference on Tuesday, one year to the date following a news conference at a gas station to announce the party's Commitment to Colorado."

RELATED: Colorado Republican party announces new 'Commitment to Colorado' agenda Monday

This year's event was also held at a station, Mile High Station, owned by Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Joe O'Dea.

At the news conference, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl gave bullet points for how she wants to save Coloradans money as governor.

"By taking our great state to zero income tax and cutting the red tape to make housing affordable again and cutting the gas tax in half and still fixing our roads," said Ganahl.

Let's focus on the "zero income tax."

Colorado's current income tax rate is 4.55%. Actually, because we are receiving TABOR refunds, one of the refund mechanisms is to temporarily reduce the rate, which is temporarily 4.5%.

Ganahl wants the number to be zero.

Above is today's full interview with Heidi Ganahl.

9NEWS political reporter Marshall Zelinger: "Income tax, you say you want zero percent income tax. Same idea. You do that, what's getting cut or where is the money coming from?"

Heidi Ganahl: "So Marshall, my intention is to put more money back into the pockets of the people of Colorado. One of the ways we can do that is to take us to zero income tax. We can do it about one percent a year over my first term, a little bit more than that if you average it out. We've got to tighten our belt. We've got to reduce the size of government. Jared Polis has added almost 4,000 full-time employees equivalence into the government. He's grown the size of government by over 20%. That's one way we can reduce the cost. The other way is to attract new business. The five top performing economies in states across the United States are zero income tax states. It is absolutely beneficial to the State of Colorado to do so. We also need to affect fraud and waste, there's plenty of that to go around, and some of the Polis pork that he's added in as governor. Finally, special interests and favors. That's something we've got to address as well, as he talked about with Disney. Something like that is not OK for the people of Colorado and for the small business owners who are really hurting right now."

Zelinger: "The five states, I think, have higher property taxes and higher state sales tax, so would you be for that?"

Ganahl: "I have no intention of raising other taxes in order to accomplish this goal. I am a governor, I will be a governor who has big, bold ideas for this state. I'm tenacious. I'm a leader. I've had a lot of experience. I manage a $5 billion budget at CU. I help do that as a Regent. I will roll up my sleeves and get this done for the people of Colorado."

Ratcheting down the income tax from 4.5% to zero would be how Ganahl wants to reduce the income tax.

She mentioned reducing state jobs to save money. She also said "fraud" and "waste," without providing specific examples. This is why more specifics are needed.

In 2020-21 (state budget years are July to June), income taxes brought in $9.79 billion for the general fund. The general fund is the pot of money that state lawmakers get to divvy up.

Income taxes made up 68.4% of that general fund pot in 2020-21.

That general fund money gets spent on areas like:

  • K-12 education
  • Health Care
  • Human Services
  • Corrections
  • Higher Education
  • Courts
  • Public Safety

On top of that, another $875 million from state income taxes was sent directly to K-12 education because of the school finance Amendment 23.

Ganahl also said that she wants to cut the gas tax in half.

In 2020-21, the gas tax generated $593.6 million in revenue. Half of that would be $296.8 million.

The gas tax provides money to the Colorado Department of Transportation for highways, counties for road maintenance, cities for streets and Colorado State Patrol.

Zelinger: "If I heard correctly out there, you said you want to slash the gas tax in half and still fund roads."

Ganahl: "Yes."

Zelinger: "How do you do that?"

Ganahl: "Well, after [Senate Bill] 260 passed, what I realized after doing a lot of research, that a lot of those funds, new taxes to the people of Colorado, are being put into different buckets of money that don't fix the roads. I don’t believe the people of Colorado understand that. What I'm more concerned about is the EPA 179B determination letter that Jared Polis has not submitted that will raise the cost of gas 51 cents a gallon because we'll be required to use blended fuel. That is not OK. Right now, people are suffering in Colorado. They need to be able to afford gas. And by raising the gas -- the cost of gas by 51 cents a gallon -- because Jared Polis didn't want to submit the science to the EPA is tragic."

Senate Bill 260 created a new gas fee that will add two cents per gallon to fuel, increasing one cent per gallon each year until it reaches eight cents a gallon.

It also created the 27-cent delivery fee and 30-cent ride share fees.

Where does the money go? In June 2021, we explained that not every penny goes to a traditional definition of transportation. 

RELATED: What types of transportation will Colorado bill address? Depends on how you define 'transportation'

The gas fee that was supposed to start in July, but Democrats pushed to delay the fee until April 2023, after the November election. Gov. Jared Polis (D) said that it was delayed to help Coloradans from rising prices.

Since the legislation that Ganahl referenced includes other fees besides the gas fee, we asked if she would keep those fees in place to fund roads.

Zelinger: "The [Senate Bill] 260 comment, would you keep the other fees in place, to fund -- like, if you're going to cut the gas tax would the other fees stay in place in 260?"

Ganahl: "We'll talk about that as we go forward, but my intention, my goal is to put more money into the people of Colorado's pockets. And we're going to do that by cutting the gas tax in half and still fixing the roads…which I'm experiencing all over the state, traveling, meeting voters across Colorado and the roads are a huge issue. It's something I hear about all the time and experience on a day-to-day basis."

RELATED: Ganahl introduces running mate who pushed election conspiracy theories

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