The Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado General Assembly met this afternoon to discuss the merits of the report Priority Colorado, co-sponsored by the Independence Institute and the Reason Public Policy Institute, recommending efficiencies that could be achieved to save money spent by the Colorado state government. In the end, the committee largely dismissed its proposals.
The report burst onto the scene 10 days ago, throwing a wrench into the State Capitol’s prevailing paradigm that something either needed to be done to the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) or vital state programs would need to be cut in order to fix the state’s budget problems. Priority Colorado suggested a series of other possible reforms to balance the ledger.
This afternoon’s JBC meeting was guided by a representative of the budget committee staff, who published their own report in response to Priority Colorado. While the staff spokesperson asserted that the basic objectives embodied in the report were “desirable,” he said it fell short because of a series of misguided assumptions. Without an extensive knowledge of the ins-and-outs, my own opinion states that the staff “counter-report” and the committee’s acceptance of it was more exemplary of a “can’t-do” attitude. In other words, it’s easier for the legislative committee to avoid the suggested reforms because they require hard work and then come up with a few reasons to explain it away.
But ultimately, I lack the personal expertise to deconstruct the arguments presented. The best I can do is faithfully relay what I recorded to the best of my ability. And that’s what follows…
The staff representative’s points, which essentially shaped the consensus of the committee, included the following concerning the recommendations of Priority Colorado:
The staff “counter-report,” as presented at the meeting, promoted a couple of other salient ideas, namely that:
1. Priority Colorado won’t eliminate the need to make changes to TABOR.
2. Colorado has already done, or at least tried, a lot of the suggested reforms through the Joint Budget Committee process.
The committee’s course of action will be to draft a statement and submit it to the state’s major editorial boards, explaining why the Joint Budget Committee won’t be following through on the reforms outlined in Priority Colorado.
While Senator Owen spoke up on behalf of the report a couple times, he was overruled by the committee’s Democrat majority. Sen. Abel Tapia (D – Pueblo) especially seemed impatient not to have to deal with the issue any more than he absolutely had to do. The meeting lasted less than 45 minutes.