Both the Republicans and the Democrats under Denver’s golden dome have staked their ground on proposing solutions to the state budget crunch:
Democrats and [Republican Governor Bill] Owens agree on many parts of the plan. Owens’ budget proposal in December included a tax cut, dedicated transportation dollars and increasing the state spending limit by $500 million annually.
The sides disagree on how much of future TABOR refunds the state should keep.
[Democrat House Speaker Andrew] Romanoff’s plan would re-start refunds once government spending reaches the level it hit in 2000, before Colorado’s recession, which he calculates at roughly 6 percent of residents’ personal incomes.
Owens doesn’t consider that a “meaningful cap” on government growth, his spokesman said Monday, because staff projections show refunds won’t start again in the foreseeable future.
Who doubts that the Democrats’ long-term plan is to do away with Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, the initiative that has done more than any to promote fiscal discipline and the interests of taxpaying citizens at the State Capitol. Romanoff and company want the voters to give up their well-deserved refunds for the foreseeable future.
Easy for the Democrat majority to ask average Coloradans to make the sacrifice when they won’t do the hard work of auditing the budget to eliminate wasteful inefficiencies and extravagant giveaways. Such bold political leadership likely would allow legislators to protect both vital state programs and their responsibility to the taxpayers.
Instead of making a good faith effort to find the middle in the budget negotiations, House Democrats have already introduced a bill proposing the creation of a new government trust fund into which they can pour additional state revenues [PDF file]. The fund’s purpose? To increase funding for K-12 education above and beyond the requirements of Amendment 23. Don’t mind where the additional revenues are going to come from. Don’t mind the fact that public K-12 education in Colorado is not suffering due to lack of funds.
Instead of seeking out ways to trim waste, the Democrats at the State Capitol are already plotting new ways to spend Coloradans’ hard-earned tax dollars. Anyone surprised?
Democrat Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon has his perspective on the budget “negotiations”:
Republicans are in a tough position, Gordon said.
“They don’t want to assist the Democrats in getting a major victory that might keep us in the majority,” he said. “And yet they also realize that one of the reasons they lost the majority was because they didn’t deal with the biggest issue facing Colorado.”
Funny thing to say from a party that sought election on a platform of fiscal responsibility but since has shown little serious resolve to “deal with the biggest issue facing Colorado.”
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