Under the Dome column: Frustration level running high
Under the Dome
This is the time of year when my frustration with government reaches a peak. They keep telling me that you can’t expect government to run like a corporation, and I guess that’s true, but I keep reaching back to my corporate days to solve government problems, and I end up very frustrated. Who’s in charge here? Is anyone accountable? Where is all that money going? Am I nuts? Don’t answer that last question.
Colorado’s state government and its extensions consist of about 22 different departments or agencies, 178 very independent K-12 school districts, a higher education system of dissimilar institutions, 64 counties that run human services and work programs, many local districts, a federal overreach that dictates much of what we do, and 100 legislators who have a better way. And we spend $30 billion a year.
And then. We have TABOR, Gallagher, Amendment 23 and hundreds of legislative dictates to the budget to contend with.
In the budget committee hearings, we review over 1,000 pockets of spending and match those to hundreds of budget line items, start with and build from last year’s budget (we should be evaluating outcomes), add mistakes and overruns, consider the department’s new ideas, and then add new bills to do new wonderful things proposed by new legislator-sponsored laws.
Am I complaining? Yes, I am. Would I do things differently? You bet I would. And I am trying with the help of a few really great allies. Last year I led and passed a bill to look at the effectiveness and costs of information technology. I cosponsored a bill to investigate Medicaid rates. I’m co-chairing the Education Leadership Council. I’ve worked to align our “Smart Act” strategy more to the budget process. And I’m working with other legislators and staff on a proposal that would go to the voters to replace the Gallagher Amendment.
I think our state government should focus on some changed priorities. We should be looking longer term at our visions and our strategies for achieving the vision. We should spend substantially more effort evaluating our existing programs. We should be designing and proposing to voters a way out of the current budgeting morass that has taken years to create. And we should and can solve the inequities between our school districts and rural versus urban economics.
We have statewide elections coming up, and a lot of candidates are trying to convince us to vote for them. I’m not a statewide candidate, but I have filed to run for the last term in my current position of representative for House District 57, and I’m paying attention to the statewide races, and so should you. Be careful whom you vote for. Let’s ask for leadership and fundamental change from bipartisan initiatives.
What do you think? Let me know. I read my emails, and I return phone calls.
Rep. Bob Rankin represents House District 57. He serves on the Joint Budget Committee and represents Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.