Under the Dome column: Other people’s money
Under the Dome
I saw this title on the spine of a book in the office of a governor whose name I won’t reveal. It’s the right message to keep in mind for Colorado state government and the Joint Budget Committee as we construct the budget, my sixth as a member of the Joint Budget Committee, that will control spending from July 2020 to June 2021 and make corrections to the 2019-2020 budget. We’ll plan to spend about $34 billion (that’s with a B). Colorado’s budgeting process has been called the most complex in the nation, and we work hard to make it as visible and accountable as possible. It will be tighter this year. After growing spending at about 6% in previous years, we will only have about 3% for this budget. We clearly cannot fill all the requests and suggestions that we’re reviewing.
Meanwhile across the street, bills by individual legislators and interim committees are being introduced, and the partisan battle lines are forming. As a member of our senate caucus leadership, I’m sure I’ll be in the thick of it to defend personal freedom, free markets and keep government small.
Nevertheless, I intend to stick to my objective of getting some good and important things done despite late nights, chaos, media and excessive verbosity. Education, transportation funding and health care costs are truly bipartisan issues. I’ll be introducing a bill that will call for broad cooperation across all stakeholders to reduce the total cost of health care and achieve statewide goals through transparency and commitments from providers. I’ll continue to work for education reform and sensible education funding as the co-chair of the Education Leadership Council. And I want to work with the budget committee to reduce the waiting list for services to those individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
What the public doesn’t often see are the hundreds of bills that don’t rise to the level of discord and ideological disagreement that the press loves to report. As rural and western legislators, those few of us are outnumbered but not forgotten. We have a particular task of reviewing every bill introduced by our Front Range friends for its impact on our communities. Our regional interests are often worthy of amendments and influence our votes.
The Tri-State announcement last week that the Craig mines and power station will close earlier than expected is a major blow to Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, the counties that I represent. I’ll be advocating and sponsoring legislation that will do everything possible to support the impacted people in those communities. If our state is to be a leader in transition to renewables, let’s also be a leader in helping struggling communities.
And the campaign season is upon us. I’ll be on the road and knocking on doors. In my earlier days as an engineer and corporate executive, I never would have imagined that I or anyone else would actually enjoy such personal exposure and sometimes criticism. But I do.
I look forward to meeting and talking with more of my constituents of rural and resort communities in Colorado. I plan on continuing to represent you. But until then, keep the encouragement and criticism flowing.
“Under the Dome” appears on the third Tuesday of the month. State Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his first term representing Senate District 8, which includes Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties.
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