My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Budget Deal

Here's the lead from the Denver Post story:

Republican Gov. Bill Owens and Democratic legislative leaders stood together Thursday and asked voters to approve a budget reform measure they said would help solve the state's money problems.

The announcement marked a landmark deal among Owens, Democratic Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald and House Speaker Andrew Romanoff that all sides said they will stump hard to sell to voters in November.

The deal would let state government keep about $3.1 billion more over five years than constitutional limits currently allow. It would also include a temporary tax cut.

On first look, and not knowing any of the details, it looks like a win-win for the politicians: the Dems get to spend more money and the Governor gets a five year time limit and a small, temporary tax cut. This, I believe, is how you have to get things done when you're the minority. Unfortunately, this does nothing to ease the pressures on the budget mandated by Amendment 23, but we knew that wasn't going to happen this time around, anyway.

Of course, this is still going to be a pretty tough sell to the public, which has to approve the deal.

The new allies have about eight months to convince the state's voters to pass the plan, which campaign strategists say is a big challenge.

"Any discussion about the budget is mind-numbing, so what you need to do is show how it affects people," said Steve Welchert, a Denver consultant. "What you need to show are classroom teachers, firefighters, nurses at the university hospital, paramedics out in Fort Morgan."

It's not going to be cheap. Romanoff predicted a multimillion-dollar campaign. Last fall, supporters and opponents spent $11.5 million on four citizen-sponsored initiatives - more money than raised by either of the Colorado candidates running for U.S. Senate.

And, indeed, in early jockeying Douglas Bruce has denounced the plan and called out the Governor:

Douglas Bruce, author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, on Thursday called Gov. Bill Owens "a Republican impostor who is trying to win the hearts of liberal voters as he heads out of office."

In fact, Bruce said, he is willing to bet Owens $1,000 that the deal will fall flat on its face, should it come down to a vote in November.

"He can make his case for state socialism and I can make my case for limited government," Bruce said. "Clearly, we are going to fight this."

Certainly, there are no guarantees on this one. This should be an interesting one to watch play out.

As for my personal opinion, I'll hold out until I see some of the details. On its face, I would say it goes to far--it seems to go beyond letting the state get back to pre-recession levels of service. But again, this is how you get things done from a minority position. I welcome commentary from those more informed on budget issues.

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