Fixing Colorado’s budget mess |

Fixing Colorado’s budget mess

Denver Post editorial, May 17

We can hardly ask more of our elected leaders than to see a threat on the horizon and take action to wisely prepare for it, no matter how difficult it might be politically.

That’s what some Republican and Democratic leaders did in 2005 when they sold voters on Referendum C, a five-year timeout from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. In that vein, we were glad to hear Gov. Bill Ritter is trying to build a broad coalition to again tackle TABOR, which has slowed the growth of government, diminished state services and jeopardized higher education.

It’s going to take strong resolve by the governor and others to address all of the fiscal constraints and funding mandates that have made a mess of the budget process in Colorado. And it will take a unified front by Republicans, Democrats, businesspeople, educators and activists to convince voters of the merit.

TABOR has been defanged a bit over the years, starting with Ref C, which got rid of the so-called ratchet effect and allowed a five-year timeout on revenue limits, so the state could keep the money it collected over TABOR limits.

That timeout runs out in 2010, right about the time most expect the economy will recover. It needs to be dealt with.

TABOR also conflicts with other constitutional budget mandates, such as Amendment 23, which requires annual increases in K-12 spending.

Hopefully, Ritter will help forge a compromise that deals with both, similar to Amendment 59, the attempt last year to address dual problems of mandated spending and revenue limits. It would have eliminated the constitutional requirement that revenues in excess of TABOR limits be refunded to taxpayers as well as the requirement that K-12 spending rise each year.

To pass any sort of TABOR reform, Ritter knows he’ll need a broad coalition. Like Referendum C, a proposal that’s born from compromise and pushed by a diverse coalition will be something fairly moderate, rather than a full-on gutting of TABOR, which likely wouldn’t fly.

It can’t be pushed by only Democrats either. Republicans, many of whom know the fiscal mess the state is in, must stand up and be counted.

Colorado’s needs are only going to grow with its population, but services such as education, health programs and transportation will be held back by artificial budget formulas and conflicting constitutional strictures if voters don’t act. We hope our leaders have the foresight to look down the road and the courage to fight for a reasonable solution.

Vail Daily editorial, May 8

As our weather gets warmer, ever more folks are coming out to play on two wheels. And that means it’s time for drivers of four-wheeled vehicles to shift their attention a bit. It’s also time for a shot of reality for motorcycle riders.

There are far more bicyclists than motorcyclists in the valley, and drivers need to keep their eyes open for their pedaling neighbors as well as those on motorbikes.

But motorcyclists seem to be hurt and killed far out of proportion to their numbers on the roads. And in those cases, cell phone-yakking drivers aren’t always to blame.

We received a press release recently from the Colorado Department of Transportation that put some stark numbers to the problem. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 18 percent of Colorado traffic deaths in 2008 ” a total of 98 people ” although motorcycles made up only 3 percent of all registered vehicles.

More disturbing, state officials say 80 percent of all of the fatal motorcycle crashes were the riders’ fault. The vast majority of those people weren’t wearing helmets.

Riders, we know most of you are grownups, but please be careful out there.

Rep. Tom Price (GA) on, May 15

When energy prices spiked last year, Americans across the political spectrum understood a simple concept that many in Washington still don’t get: high energy costs hurt.

[Expensive Energy] Sadly, those affected most were least able to absorb the pain. Households on shoestring budgets suddenly had to choose between paying for food, rent, clothing, and commuting to work. On the macro-economic level, higher transportation and production costs for businesses meant higher prices at the store for consumers. Consumers responded by spending less, and the economy stumbled.

With unemployment still rising and the government bailouts and “stimulus” attempts predictably failing to improve the economic outlook, we need an energy plan that will create American jobs and American energy.

The Democrats’ response? They want to increase energy costs by more than $3,000 per household. Their cap-and-trade plan is effectively a national energy tax that will punish energy consumption and devastate economic activity. Simply put, they want you to pay more money every time you flip on a light switch.

The Republican Study Committee has a better idea. In partnership with the Congressional Western Caucus, we recently introduced H.R. 2300, the American Energy Innovation Act. H.R. 2300 is an “all-you-can-create” energy plan that focuses on innovation to create the renewable fuels of tomorrow, conservation to ease energy demand and create a cleaner environment, and production of American energy sources today.

Our plan will not only decrease our dependence on foreign energy suppliers and forge a path to a new energy future, it will provide millions of the jobs we need to reinvigorate the economy.

Maureen Dowd in the New York Times, May 16

Dick Cheney has done many dastardly things. But presiding over policies so saturnine that they ended up putting the liberal speaker from San Francisco on the hot seat about torture may be one of his proudest achievements.

Nancy Pelosi’s bad week of blithering responses about why she did nothing after being briefed on torture has given Republicans one of their happiest ” and harpy-est ” weeks in a long time. They relished casting Pelosi as contemptible for not fighting harder to stop their contemptible depredations against the Constitution. That’s Cheneyesque chutzpah.

The stylish grandmother acted like a stammering child caught red-handed, refusing to admit any fault and pointing the finger at a convenient scapegoat. She charged the C.I.A. with misleading Congress, which is sort of like saying the butler did it, or accusing a generic thuggish-looking guy in a knit cap with gang tattoos to distract from your sin.

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, if the torture was to prevent terrorist attacks, it seemed to happen mainly during the period when the Bush crowd was looking for what was essentially political information to justify the invasion of Iraq.

I used to agree with President Obama, that it was better to keep moving and focus on our myriad problems than wallow in the darkness of the past. But now I want a full accounting. I want to know every awful act committed in the name of self-defense and patriotism. Even if it only makes one ambitious congresswoman pay more attention in some future briefing about some future secret technique that is “uniquely” designed to protect us, it will be worth it.

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