Republicans in the Colorado Senate today unveiled a proposal to reduce government spending as an alternative to the Democrats’ plan to raise taxes on the businesses and citizens of Colorado.
“Democrats keep saying that in order to balance the budget ‘everything is on the table,’” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud. “Republicans want to make sure that a reduction in government spending is on the table and thoroughly debated before we raise taxes.”
The GOP proposal includes a 0.25 percent reduction in state payroll spending for the current fiscal year, and a 4.4 percent reduction for next fiscal year. If the state government made these small sacrifices it would eliminate the need for a laundry list of Democrat proposed taxes on everything from soda pop, to napkins, fertilizer and Internet sales.
“The spending reductions we are asking for are less drastic than to the 5 percent across the board cuts asked for by Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer or the thousands of layoffs asked for by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick,” said Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands. “Both those guys are Democrats, and they realize the need to reduce the size and scope of government during these tough times.”
The Republican plan would require Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter to cut the state’s $3.2 billion state payroll budget by $17.8 million for the current fiscal year. The savings would be found through the elimination of non-essential or unfilled government jobs and through salary reductions to state employees primarily making more than $100,000 a year.
For next fiscal year, the GOP plan would require an across the board spending cut of approximately 4.4 percent. First priority would be given to eliminating non-essential or unfilled government jobs and through salary reductions to employees primarily making over $100,000 a year. This would also allow the state to restore the senior homestead exemption and vendor fee.
“This is a chance for the Democrats to recognize the changing mood of America,” said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction. “By cutting budgets one quarter of a percent this year and just over 4 percent next year, we can stave off job-killing, recovery-slowing tax increases. This one’s an economic no-brainer.”
The spending reductions will save $17.8 million in the current year and $306.5 million in the next year, eliminating the need for Democrat proposals to increase taxes by those same amounts.
Teachers would not be subject to pay cuts or firings under the bill.
But then again, Republican state senator Keith King yesterday demolished the Democrats’ prevailing “teacher cuts vs. tax hikes” mythology.
Interestingly, the GOP proposal would cut government spending less than the 6 percent overwhelmingly preferred by Colorado voters to the Democrats’ tax hike approach. I haven’t crunched the numbers yet myself. But if the Republican plan balances the budget it’s simply bad news for Democrats, who might want to start counting down the days until they return to minority status.