The budget debate at Colorado’s State Capitol heads into full throttle this week. In a tough year, the linchpin to the Democrats’ plan is a raid on the privately-funded Pinnacol Assurance Company. Even the Denver Post recognizes this as a bad idea:
If lawmakers can’t get money from Pinnacol, higher education could be cut by more than $400 million â€” more than half the state’s allotment to colleges and universities.
Pinnacol offers guaranteed workers’ compensation insurance, and Republicans have argued that because the insurer’s assets were funded by businesses paying premiums, the state should keep its hands off.
[Attorney General John] Suthers, a Republican, clearly, agrees.
The Pinnacol idea is dubious at best. It is a gimmick, a one-time fix in desperate times. Lawmakers should steer clear of it. [emphasis added]
As the editorial goes on to explain, the Democrats have pursued this as their primary strategy in part because — the Supreme Court apparently having blown the lid off TABOR for them — they say they don’t have time to consider eliminating tax exemptions under their alleged newfound powers.
But I believe there’s a more important connection between the Democrats’ current approach to budgeting and last month’s anti-taxpayer court decision. The majority party at the State Capitol has grown so accustomed to the Mary Mullarkey Supreme Court “interpreting” law in bizarre ways to rescue their dubious policies, they would rather see the State of Colorado sued than make the tough decisions that come with running state government.
Will the Democrats show any willingness to look at one or more Republican proposals rather than run headlong after a “risky gimmick” and add one more notch to their recent spate of attempts to govern themselves out of the majority?
Democrats eschewing tough decisions. The Post sees it that way:
And while spending cuts and furloughs are politically difficult as well, it’s something much of the private sector has been forced to do.
Ideally, the state could work out a deal with Pinnacol, without resorting to a raid, even though it would only delay the tough conversations about raising taxes and how to fund higher ed in the future.
But Colorado’s budget, and those painful decisions, need to be made by our elected leaders, not our courts.
Colorado Democrats: Making law from the bench to stick it to the taxpayer so they can save their own hides. (For a funnier take on the Pinnacol issue, check out Andrew Ripemoff at Face The State.)