Imagine sitting down to write a term paper or thesis, then releasing the first draft of the paper not only to your professor but to a worldwide audience. Now imagine your paper contains instructions for allocating billions of tax dollars to a bunch of different groups. You can start to understand what Colorado state senator Michael Johnston (D-Denver) feels like after releasing a draft of legislation to rewrite the state’s 19-year-old School Finance Act.
In the funny game of democratic politics, is it better to make a bold push in one direction, or to try to bring diverse interests together around a “Grand Bargain”? When it comes to Johnston’s monumental effort, the question is being played out before our eyes. The idea is to tie “bold” school finance reform to a “bold” $1 billion tax increase proposal on November’s ballot.
Ed News Colorado reported on last Thursday’s feedback session Johnston’s office sponsored, where he heard lots of questions and lots of concerns. Former State Board of Education member Randy DeHoff stressed a reasonable point that the overall effort really isn’t so bold on reform. He described it fairly as “a lot more money going into a 19th century system.”
At the same time, some supporters of “revenue enhancements” or “increased investments” to K-12 education expressed doubts, insisting that the $1 billion target wasn’t high enough. Johnston talked about internal poll results that showed asking for more money would be fatal to the whole proposition. He framed 2013′s “Grand Bargain” as the vanguard of a longer-term effort.
“What I want to do is make that initial investment and then get a chance for us to track our results and see how we’ve done, and then help us inform the next investment,” the senator assured the crowd of 150 or more. (more…)
The 2012 decline also hit government, where budgetary and labor reforms in places like Wisconsin and Tennessee have taken hold. The inimitable Mike Antonucci, writing at the Education Intelligence Agency, picked apart the numbers to unravel 10 interesting observations, including this pair of gems:
9) If the trends recorded since 2000 continue, by 2051 there will be 8 million union members in the United States – 6.6% of the total workforce – and they will all work for the government.
Three of the five Board seats for Colorado’s largest school district are up for grabs in 2013. One of them is just inviting a challenge. Jeffco school board director Paula Noonan made local headlines for displaying a serious bout of bad judgment:
Jeffco school board member Paula Noonan was arrested during a traffic stop Jan. 8 when Denver police officers became aware of an outstanding warrant from a 2011 traffic ticket.
Conservatives have plenty of reason to mope in the fiscal gloom these days, maybe even enough to indulge in a bit of dark humor. That brings us to the Colorado political junkie joke of the week, the first of 2013: “How bad was the fiscal cliff deal Congress approved?”
“I don’t know. How bad was it?”
“The fiscal cliff deal was so bad that Michael Bennet couldn’t even vote for it.”
The serious question, though, that follows Congress’ pathetic kicking-the-can-down-the-road exercise — which strangely divided Colorado’s Democratic tag-team duo in the U.S. Senate — is whether Colorado Senator Michael Bennet‘s dissent may have set the stage for Republicans to start taking a necessary hard line on the next tough issue around the bend. And to win back some respect from freedom fighters on the Right. (more…)
When a Republican politician speaks competently, compassionately and courageously about real education reform, my ears perk up. When that politician happens to be hailed as one of the GOP’s top contenders for the national ticket in 2016, I also smile optimistically.
Rubio framed the education message in his D.C. award acceptance speech around the goal of opening wide the doors to America’s middle class. A linchpin is his bold proposal to expand educational choice at the federal level in a way that has not really been pursued before: (more…)
Some of Wisconsin’s early 2011 scenes played out yesterday at the State Capitol, as protestors thronged and chanted favorites like, “A people united will never be defeated!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Right-to-Work has got to go!”
News outlets report that Michigan State Police arrested eight people trying to break into legislative chambers as the state senate gave preliminary approval to send the workplace freedom measure on to supportive Governor Rick Snyder. (When similar legislation is introduced here in Colorado in 2013, the reaction almost certainly will be much more quiet… and lethal.)
For the past couple years, Wisconsin has been the locus of the political battle to weaken public-sector union power. After Gov. Scott Walker not only survived but thrived amid a failed recall election, conservatives breathed a sigh of relief. Most prominently, the costly but decisive victory revived hopes that fiscal sanity and a sense of fairness could be restored.
Modest cuts to lavish benefits for government employees, along with some of the accompanying tools approved in Walker’s controversial Budget Repair Bill, put the Badger State back on a healthy fiscal setting and brought compensation more back in line with private sector workers.
But a new video from the Association of American Educators reminds us that the Wisconsin reforms also promoted professionalism and individual empowerment for teachers. Walker’s state left the ranks of those where union monopoly power feeds off teacher tribute payments. (more…)
Finding enjoyable movie fare for American history geeks typically presents a challenge. The nature of the genre leaves diehard purists perpetually frustrated. Yet even those of us willing to allow some minor transgressions of fact or character to pass too often are disappointed by the shallow Hollywood luster that insults its audience and kicks a compelling true story to the curb. Now and again, though, one can leave the theater with a contented smile.
On Friday evening my wife and I took in Lincoln at the local multiplex. The usher at Arvada’s Olde Town Stadium Theatre entered the nearly packed auditorium and gave some introductory remarks about the movie’s production and casting. The movie, already a long time in director Steven Spielberg‘s conception, delayed an extra year to give lead actor Daniel Day-Lewis time to research and immerse himself in authentic historic character.
To great effect, the director patiently agreed. Day-Lewis’ performance as the 16th President is not only masterful, but Oscar-worthy. Taking the marble off the man, he eschewed the Hollywood shortcuts for a historically accurate voice (more shrill and tinny than booming and baritone). Lincoln emanates through the screen. Lincoln the father struggles to be attentive, often including his young Tad in important meetings. Lincoln the lawyer (“a sturdy profession”) recollects stories that drive home important principles and strategies, or breaks up the tension with one especially memorable account. (more…)
We’ve all seen how the waning days of the 2012 national campaign have fixed President Obama and the Democrats on the alliterative petty themes of Big Bird, Bayonets and Binders. It didn’t take long after the first debate for the incumbent’s campaign to pile on the Republican challenger’s mention of the large, lovable Sesame Street character. Team Obama unleashed a laughable commercial and a “four-Pinocchio” fundraising appeal.
Say what you will, but at least the Obama team didn’t tell America that Big Bird was, say, green. For that they might have had to hire the staff of Colorado junior U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. This morning Bennet’s office sent out a fundraising appeal for Congressional candidate Sal Pace. The email message (with the subject line “Grover”) began, well, like this: (more…)
Colorado’s 7th Congressional district, where I live, covers some of the swingin’-est swing state political geography in the nation. But only recently has incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter‘s vulnerability become truly apparent. Just this week the national experts at the Rothenberg Political Reportupgraded the chances of Perlmutter’s opponent and neighbor, likeable Republican businessman Joe Coors.
If you needed more reason to see the clear difference between the two Republican candidates in HD 22, this 13-second clip (MP3) from a May 29 debate of Bauman summarizing his assessment of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) should raise some eyebrows: (more…)
This past Saturday many Colorado county political parties held their biennial assemblies for the purpose of approving resolutions and nominating candidates for the primary ballot. For the fifth consecutive time, I attended the Jefferson County Republican Assembly as a voting delegate. The new and spacious Lakewood church venue was needed, with more than 1,200 certified delegates in attendance.
The strong turnout was most impressive in terms of first-time delegates, which an impromptu show of hands revealed made up somewhere around two-thirds of those attending north Jeffco’s Senate District 19 assembly. Similar anecdotes and reports from other districts suggest the large-scale infusion of fresh grassroots political blood was a countywide phenomenon. Not a good sign for the Obama administration from a major swing county in a major swing state.
How that translates to the local county and state legislative races remains to be seen. But the fact that so many showed up to participate in the process on a beautiful Colorado weekend when virtually every race to be determined was uncontested (though getting to hear of County Commissioner John Odom‘s rock-solid fiscally conservative principles and his lighthearted “The Bald Truth” campaign theme idea were a highlight) — well, it speaks volumes.
The only exception of a contested race was House District 22 in south Jeffco, where my conservative friend Justin Everett bested Loren Bauman 58 to 42 percent. The rules of the game state that a candidate must earn at least 30 percent to win a spot on the June 26 primary ballot, or else try to collect signatures to petition on. As a result of the assembly outcome, Everett’s name will appear on the ballot’s top line. From the campaign press release: (more…)
Here’s a great quick video to watch, drawing the connection between America’s declining economic freedom and a host of problems, including the rising tide of debt which daily comes closer to drowning us all:
Who will wake up and turn this ship around? Just in case you didn’t understand why the 2012 national elections were so important…
I’m back. This time I mean it. With Colorado’s legislative session in gear and both chambers of the General Assembly up for grabs in this fall’s election, there is no time to dive into the fray like the present. While Mount Virtus may never be as prolific a place as it’s ever been. You can follow some of my other writings as follows:
Nevertheless, this year you can count on this space for more coverage of events at the legislature and analysis of the upcoming state legislative elections — much like these 2010 posts on the state house and senate.
That sort of in-depth analysis will wait ’till later. For now, to whet the appetite, a quick look at House District 27 — 2010′s correctly called #1 pickup for Republicans. Democrats want it back, naturally. But given the recent reapportionment that added to the district’s GOP registration advantage, it’s an uphill climb. A month ago the liberal blog Jeffco Pols reported that Big Labor’s Tim Allport was stepping up to challenge Republican freshman Rep. Libby Szabo: (more…)
While CD 1′s hard-working Dr. Mike Fallon (#2 on the list) looks to be keeping true to his word to be a one-time candidate, the conservatives occupying the next two spots both could be back in the fray for 2012. It was more than 13 months ago I observed about CD 7 primary runner-up Lang Sias (#4): (more…)