Morgan Liddick: Perhaps we’re better off wearing dunce hats |

Morgan Liddick: Perhaps we’re better off wearing dunce hats

And On the Right

Better pat yourself down for the “stupid” sign. You may not have noticed it lately, but believe me, you’re wearing it. The Governor sees it. So does Colorado Senate President Peter Groff. And Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, whose constant question seems to be, “How do we fool ’em today?”

These three gentlemen gave ample evidence of their attitude about the average Coloradoan in their post-legislative-session whine conference of last Wednesday: You’re a bunch of rubes, ripe for the duping.

Consider their attempt to explain away the Legislature’s failure to enact any legislation of primary significance this session. In a shameless attempt at misdirection, all three invoked the Democrat version of the Bogeyman: those nasty Republicans prevented anything from happening.

Oh, please.

Democrats enjoy an overwhelming majority in the Colorado House. They control 20 of the 35 seats in the Senate, and the Governorship. Their inability to enact major legislation is not the fault of the minority party. It stems instead from the ineptitude, the fecklessness and the cowardice of the majority. Which, just to review, is Democrat.

Let’s take two examples of legislative failure, starting with Speaker Romanoff’s late entry into the arcane world of school financing. On its face, his proposal was a pretty sensible compromise, trading a relaxation of certain elements of TABOR dealing with higher education funding for an elimination of Amendment 23’s automatic annual funding increases for K-12 school systems. It seems that he initially had the support of a sufficient number of Republican legislators to accomplish the tradeoff.

But the Speaker couldn’t, or didn’t, keep the troops in line. When a group of Democrat lawmakers proposed that Amendment 23’s automatic funding increases be perpetuated by law, the deal fell apart. A tip for Mr. Romanoff: If you’re working on a compromise, stabbing your partners in the back will probably not get you the kind of bipartisanship you say you need, either now or in the future.

Then there’s the highway repair issue, which began with a finding from the Governor’s “Blue Ribbon” panel that Colorado would need from $500 million to $2.5 billion a year for its transportation infrastructure, starting immediately. The Governor proposed a $100 “fee” hike on car registrations as a partial funding measure. Cooler heads prevailed on that one, dropping the “fee” amount to $25, mostly.

This would have done little to address our state’s needs, raising about $180 million per year of the $500 million minimum the panel said was necessary just to keep up with our present situation, as grim as that is. But at least the Democrats could have used the fee hike to show that they were “doing something” about the road-and-bridge situation in Colorado ” without that pesky requirement of taking the issue of a tax increase to the voters.

In the end, however, even this miniscule effort failed to move forward. To their credit, the Democrat leaders didn’t try to hang this failure on the Republicans. Not directly, at least. But their explanation on Wednesday last said much about their attitudes toward governance, toward the citizens of our fair state, and about their priorities.

Why did no transportation bill go forward? Fear.

As the Governor put it incumbent Democrats, particularly freshmen, were worried about being “… beat over the head by a Republican opponent saying that they unilaterally increased fees for transportation funding …” and consequently, not being re-elected.

Evidently the Governor has forgotten that legislators are elected not to be re-elected, but to work in the best interests of the state and citizens of Colorado. Putting concerns about re-election first indicates quite clearly that the leadership of the Democrat party has other, far different priorities ” something to remember come Nov. 4.

The political process in Colorado ” and in our country at large ” exists to evaluate politicians and their programs; their various views of the necessities for our future, if you will. So if there is a perceived need for extensive road-and-bridge repair in Colorado, those who would be our political leaders should say so, and take the issue to the people of the state. If the case is a good one, the people will find it so, and those who propose the solution will reap the benefit. If it is a poor case, however, they must anticipate sanctions. That’s politics.

To fear the results of this process is curious behavior in a political party ” unless, of course, its members and leaders don’t trust the judgement of the people they putatively represent. Which raises a whole different set of questions, none of them very flattering.

But that’s for another time.

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