Sen. Bob Rankin focuses on education, health care in work on Joint Budget Committee
As a member of the Joint Budget Committee, Colorado Sen. Bob Rankin has seen first hand the financial effects of the COVID-19 shutdown. Rankin explained that the December budget forecast showed $865 million to spend over the previous year. In May, the budget needed to be cut by $3.3 billion.
“We’ve cut a lot of important programs, “Rankin said. “… We’ve never had to do anything like this. This is 25% of the state’s general fund spending. I think we have to do everything we can to promote rapid recovery and then that means supporting our businesses and getting people back to work because working people pay taxes, businesses pay taxes. I think it’s time to end the emergency.”
Rankin is running for reelection as a Republican representing Colorado’s District 8, which includes Summit County.
Rankin said that when budget committee staff came to the Joint Budget Committee and recommended that the tourism market budget be cut, Rankin went against the recommendation as he said it makes a difference to communities like Summit County whether tourism is marketed. He said tourism industries need to be brought back safely but as quickly as possible.
Commenting on the protests against racial injustice going on in Denver as well as other parts of the state, including Summit County, Rankin said protests and speaking out are American traditions. Rankin said Thursday that there was a hearing going on for a bill that would implement changes within the police system.
“It’s almost part of our culture that you walk and carry a sign and support your causes, and I think we do not want to inhibit that. We want to give people every opportunity, but at the same time … we have to separate vandalism from peaceful protest,” Rankin said.
Reflecting on his six years in the House of Representatives, two years as a senator and six years on the Joint Budget Committee, Rankin said he has focused especially on representing the rural interests of western Colorado and education in the past few years. Rankin said he co-started the Education Leadership Council, which he continues to co-chair. Rankin said he also has focused on health care costs in rural Colorado.
“Last year, I actually worked with a bipartisan team, and we passed a bill called “reinsurance” which dropped rates about 30% for that segment. … At the same time, we ran a bill to enable local negotiations,” Rankin said. “So, you put those two together, and we’ve reduced some people’s insurance by almost 50%. I’m really fighting to keep that and keep it funded in this era of budget cuts.”
Rankin said his three main focuses have been working on the budget, health care and education. He noted that he also continues to support economic development, small business and tourism. Rankin said he might be considered a moderate conservative as he feels he can make a bigger difference in bipartisan arenas like the Joint Budget Committee.
“When I went on the budget committee six years ago, I knew that it was a bipartisan job, but I felt like I could make a bigger difference there. I’ve been around, I’ve run corporations and stuff, and I really want to work on problems rather than just be political all the time. I want to look back and say I did something like education, like health care. So I knew that it would be a bipartisan job, and then that role would then lead to me being bipartisan in other arenas,” Rankin said.
Rankin said he views being moderate as an advantage and measures the success of his work in being able to say he has helped his constituents.
“I have basic conservative values. I want the government to be as small as reasonably possible, I want taxes to be low, I really believe in individuals’ freedom,” Rankin said.
Rankin noted that he worked with the governor’s office to open short-term rentals and is currently working to keep the senior property tax exemption in place amid budget cuts. Rankin also is supporting the repeal of the Gallagher Amendment.
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