Short-term actions have long-term costs
In a recent commentary distributed statewide, Colorado Senate President John Andrews claims “the Republican-led Senate has joined with our House counterparts and Gov. Owens in saying “yes’ to Colorado’s needs.” Senator Andrews says the Senate “came through” for Colorado by balancing a budget “without asking the people for higher taxes as many other states have recently done.”
I take issue with simplistic crowing, especially when short-term actions carry long-term costs.
State funding for Colorado’s libraries is down 86 percent since June 2002. My local librarian tells me this means “fewer new books and less access to other materials outside a small library’s collection.” Because the Denver Public Library was forced to cut the Colorado Resource Center, thousands of Colorado’s citizens no longer use the lending and reference services of what was formerly rated the nation’s No. 1 library.
Fourteen counties in rural Colorado have not a single dentist, while 20 have no hospital – a situation unlikely to improve when budget cuts to higher education and medical education are the order of this legislative body.
The State’s “balanced” budget cut the Colorado Preschool Program for at-risk families by 14 percent. When this cut trickles down to my town next fall, seven fewer children will be able to attend the program.
A health insurance program for the children of the “working poor” (CHP+ or Child Health Plan Plus) was arbitrarily limited, or “capped,” as of May. “The irony is that when the program is needed the most and enrollment is skyrocketing, they’ve capped it,” said the local outreach coordinator, whose position ended June 30.
Registering a car, doing business at the courthouse, sending a kid to college-everything’s going up in order to pay for a budget Sen. Andrews calls balanced.
“Colorado’s fiscal situation is worse than those of many other states,” an April analysis published by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports. Even Colorado State Treasurer Mike Coffman, a Republican, called the budget balancing process “a combination of massive fee increases, accounting gimmicks and raids on trust and cash funds.”
So, Senator Andrews, thanks for coming through for Coloradans. If this was “yes,” then I can’t wait to hear how you and your counterparts say “no.”
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