Fitz-Gerald: GOP off-base all 10 times |

Fitz-Gerald: GOP off-base all 10 times

State Senate President John Andrews wrote that the Colorado “state Senate worked for you.” It is time for Andrews and the Republicans to wake up and smell the coffee. A little honesty and truthfulness with citizens wouldn’t hurt, either. Andrews made 10 points where Republicans succeeded. Let me address these, one by one:

1. Balanced the budget? No. We cut $1 billion from this year’s budget and $1 billion from next year, but on whose backs? Vital state programs and services were slashed. Higher education lost

$89 million in funding, with the University of Colorado-Boulder losing $40 million.

Andrews’ fiscal mismanagement caused the state to cut school breakfasts, health care and Medicaid for legal immigrants who pay taxes, among many others. Eroding the future prosperity of the state is not success.

2. Energize the economy? No. Since December 2000, some 83,100 Coloradans have lost their jobs. The downward trend continued in 2003, with 8,000 net jobs lost during the session.

3. Act boldly on water policy? Andrews thinks asking voters for $2 billion in bonding authority is a good thing, while Republicans killed eight conservation bills. They created a taxpayer boondoggle for rich water developers, yet could not save a single drop of water. Democrats fought hard for conservation.

4. Slow down auto insurance costs? Republicans failed because a 30-year system of no-fault insurance ended, and Colorado reverted to the winner-takes-all tort system with no guarantees auto insurance rates will go down. They turned down every effort to include premium rate guarantees that would have forced lower rates.

5. Cool off health insurance costs? No. Instead of making health care more affordable, the Republican majority cut benefits, allowed insurance companies to raise rates on the sick and disabled and eliminated critical preventive care such as mammograms and prostate screening. The Republicans’ healthcare plan passed without any guarantee of rate reductions.

6. Provide better schools? No. In an alarming trend of going against the will of the voters, Republicans cut K-12 funding while using potentially $200 million of taxpayer money for vouchers to students to attend private and religious schools which have no accountability. How can Andrews say with a straight face that Republicans are providing better schools when they cut school breakfasts, slashed funding for new textbooks and are about to bankrupt the Education Fund? Continuing the downward trend in education funding, Colorado is now 47th in the nation in per-

student funding.

7. Improve transportation? No. At the bidding of the Independence Institute, Andrews sponsored several bills to completely dismantle the mass transit RTD. Even the Republican-controlled Legislature rejected Andrews’ attempt. Destroying valuable bus and light rail service is hardly an accomplishment in improving transportation.

8. Strengthen public safety? No. Andrews believes that rolling back citizen-initiated gun laws will increase public safety because now citizens can carry guns in schools, courthouses, at Broncos games and anywhere else. Local government cannot make determinations about where carrying a concealed weapon would be unwise.

9. Affirm mainstream values? No. While they were cutting critical care to desperately sick people, Republicans legislators consistently tried to push social legislation on citizens by trying to pass a bill to post “In God We Trust” in every public building. I support saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day in schools, but making it a crime not to say it seems very un-


10. Protect self-government? No. Republican legislators sponsored at least four bills aimed at disenfranchising voters including making it more difficult to vote by requiring more identification, restricting the use of provisional ballots and making it virtually impossible for third parties to make the ballot.

Andrews failed to mention the gerrymandering scandal where Republicans pushed a bill to redraw congressional boundaries.

The people’s business was pushed aside for the partisan and arrogant power grab. It is not just that the bill is terrible for Colorado, but Republicans suspended the Constitution to pass it – making a mockery of the process.

By every account, this session was a failure under his leadership.

Senate Minority Leader Joan Fitz-Gerald represents Summit County.

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