Under the Dome column: Busy traveling the district
We wore out the tires on our car last month. That’s either a testament to how well Joyce and I do our jobs of reaching out to western Colorado or the result of CDOT not having enough money to fix the potholes. For those of you not well-versed in government acronyms, CDOT is the “underfunded” (to the tune of $9 billion) Colorado Department of Transportation. Look for a lot of discussion and perhaps a ballot measure next year to fund our roads.
Joyce was out getting new tires installed in Grand Junction while I sat in on the Club 20 executive session. The Club 20 fall meeting and the steak fry the night before always draw a crowd of West Slope politicians and active citizenry to discuss and take positions on important issues like economic development and energy. I’ve been a member for years and respect the opinions of the representatives from 20 western counties. And we are always joined by elected officials and candidates from the front range, so it’s also fun time for handshakes and back slaps. The highlight of the meeting was to hear from Congressman Tipton and Sen. Gardner about the big issues being addressed in Washington. I’ll take Denver any day.
There’s a lot of concern after the tragic explosion in Firestone about abandoned or unmapped oil or gas pipelines and well sites. Sen. Scott and I have submitted a letter to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requesting detail on the number and costs of plugging these wells and reclaiming the sites.
I serve on the boards of the Colorado Tourism Office and the State Internet Portal Authority, both critical to western interests. I’m looking forward to the upcoming yearly planning sessions for both.
The Joint Budget Committee, my daytime job, will be gearing up for another balancing act soon. We get a new forecast this month and the governor’s budget recommendation on Nov. 1. Then we start to review the departments in detail. By March, all six of us will be exhausted and even more unpopular, but we will have a budget. I’m sure Medicaid will continue to grow faster than revenue, and we have to deal with the uncertainty of health care reform from the feds. We’ll face demands for more funding for schools and transportation. The prison population has started grow, so we need to reopen a facility. And the state fair still loses money. They tell me it’s simply a matter of priorities.
But we still have a month of travel, conferences and meetings, so those new tires will get a good workout before they get parked in the garage at our little apartment in Denver and we walk through the snow to the capitol every day.
“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his third term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
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Cleaning up isn’t cheap — that much is clear following estimates it would take $200,000 to clean up all of the roughly 80 homeless encampments in Glenwood Springs.