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Colorado’s budget problem is spending on entitlements

April 8th, 2016

So much chatter at the State Capitol is that Colorado’s government doesn’t have enough money to spend on programs that politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists want to pay for with our tax dollars.

Any discussion of government spending should begin with the basics:

• Government’s job is to work for us – not vice versa.

• Colorado is a collection of working families and business owners who comprise an economy.  We happen to have a government, which we elect. Colorado is not a government that happens to have an economy and five million citizens.

• We expect those we elect to make tough decisions with limited resources – just like we do everyday.

The problem with Colorado’s state budget is not that taxpayers are paying too little or that the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) is too restrictive.  The problem is that, over the last 10 years, the ruling Democrats have over-promised social welfare entitlements which are now devouring everything else. [Read more →]

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Our schools are strangled by data-collection overload

March 21st, 2016

When discussion of K-12 education focuses on partisan funding battles, we sometimes ignore measures to improve our schools that ought to receive bipartisan support.

Over the past two decades, lawmakers, as well as state and federal bureaucrats, have handed down overwhelming mandates for collection of information about students and teachers. (No doubt, I voted for some of these mandates during my years in the Colorado Senate.) [Read more →]

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GOP shouldn’t let Trump drag US into the gutter

March 7th, 2016

My favorite Republican has never won the party’s nomination for president.  (I was born eight months too late to vote for Ronald Reagan.)  So when it comes to rationalizing why I should settle for Mitt Romney or John McCain, I have more experience than I want.

I’ve always supported the Republican nominee for three reasons:  the Supreme Court, conservative principles, and character.

It gives me no pleasure to say to my fellow Republicans that I’m having a very hard time rationalizing a vote for Donald Trump if he wins the Republican nomination.

I will not disparage others for their support of Trump.  However, I think Trump backers need to understand why a lifelong, conservative Republican believes a Trump candidacy or presidency would be disastrous. [Read more →]

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Prosecution, Persecution & Government Intimidation

January 20th, 2016

“I love my country, but I fear my government” once struck me as a bit paranoid.  However, recent accounts of citizens who’ve fallen into bureaucrats’ crosshairs is a reminder that “just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after me.”

Consider these examples of government run amok:

Oregan ranchers Steven and Dwight Hammond face five years in a federal prison after two controlled burns drifted past their property boundary and onto federal property.  Judges ruled that one fire might have caused $100 in damage to federal land while another “burned about an acre.”

Still, the Hammonds who, even prosecutors admit, “have done wonderful things in their community,” were prosecuted under a federal anti-terorrism law that mandates a five-year minimum sentence. [Read more →]

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The sad state of freedom in America

September 29th, 2015

Some 30 years ago, a common retort by my classmates when told that we could not do something was, “It’s a free country, isn’t it?”

I don’t hear that rhetorical question much these days.  Maybe that’s because the answer is changing before our very eyes.

One of my favorite restaurants posts a sign that was once common: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”

Well, if they refuse service to someone who isn’t an able-bodied heterosexual white male, they’d better have a good lawyer and deep pockets defend themselves. [Read more →]

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Advancing justice for unborn victims

April 17th, 2015

Acknowledging the humanity of an unborn child is always the right thing to do, and it shouldn’t always have to be discussed in the context of abortion.  That’s why the recently introduced “Offenses Against Unborn Children Act” is a worthy cause.  [Read more →]

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School funding suffers from ObamaCare

April 4th, 2015

Coloradans’ eyes understandably pass over reports about legislators working on the annual state budget.  After all, the “long bill” – so named because it spans nearly 500 pages – is a necessary but mind-numbing legislative drudgery, salted with indiscernible acronyms, and largely incomprehensible to anyone outside the State Capitol.

To most inside the State Capitol, the budget is a Very Big Deal – a $26 billion big deal.  That’s nearly $5,000 for every Colorado resident.  And that’s not table scraps!

While normal Coloradans go about living their lives, the spending lobby at the State Capitol is paying very close attention to the state budget.  Incidentally, “spending lobby” need not be taken as a pejorative; it simply describes those paid to lobby lawmakers on behalf of agencies, organizations and individuals whose programs are funded with our tax dollars.

Consider some illuminating numbers that chart key developments in Colorado over the past eight years:

• State population has grown by 12 percent.  Personal income is up 22 percent.

• Enrollment in K-12 public schools has increased by 10 percent, and general fund money spent on those public schools is also up 10 percent.

• The total state budget has grown by 45 percent, and general fund (which consists primarily of state income and sales tax receipts) spending is up 55 percent.

So, why isn’t school funding generally keeping pace with overall budget growth?  Here’s the answer:

In those same eight years, spending on Medicaid and the Department of Health Care Policy and Finance is up 148 percent.  Enrollment in Medicaid is up 196 percent. [Read more →]

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Easy access to entitlements undermines Americans’ work ethic

February 15th, 2015

“Our greatest primary task is to put people to work.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933.

Although sometimes considered the father of the American entitlement state, FDR understood that our sense of achievement and self-sufficiency comes from our work.

Forty years later, another Democrat, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan likewise grasped the degrading affect of welfare on those it supposedly benefits:  “It cannot too often be stated that the issue of welfare is not what it costs those who provide it, but what it costs those who receive it.”

In the past 50 years, our federal government has made it increasingly easy to collect a check for doing nothing.  We are now witnessing the rotting fruits of those policies falling from the tree of good intentions and spoiling our society from within. [Read more →]

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Don’t punish taxpayers for economic growth

January 13th, 2015

Colorado’s economy has shown remarkable resiliency in the wake of the Great Recession.

Unemployment has steadily fallen from a high of 9.6% in 2010 to an estimated 4.1% in November 2014.

Income indicators roared past pre-recession levels and now both wages and salary and per capita income are significantly higher.

In the past five years, taxes and fees paid by Coloradans to their state government have grown by 43% from $8.5 billion to an estimated $12.3 billion in the current year.

And next year, state revenue could surpass the state’s spending limit for the first time in 15 years, triggering a modest rebate to taxpayers of $116 million or 0.4% of next year’s state budget.

But those in the Government Always Needs More Money Choir just can’t stand this prosperity.  They are howling that that this modest refund – and perhaps future refunds, if the economy continues to grow – are somehow strangling our state government. [Read more →]

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Udall’s narrow view of choice is a bad joke

July 16th, 2014

Fortune cookies and Mark Udall have more in common than Colorado’s Democrat U.S. Senator might like to admit.

You probably know the juvenile prank of reading the message inside a fortune cookie – like “Now is the time to try something new” – and then adding “. . . in bed” to give it an off-color twist.

Sadly, Udall’s campaign rhetoric is strikingly similar.

The 64-year-old Udall hasn’t had a for-profit job in more than 30 years. But he’s made a political career by telling ordinary Americans that he and his Washington cronies know better than the rest of us about everything from educating our children to the type of vehicle we drive.

Ironically, he says in his campaign commercials that “each of us has the freedom to make our own choices, to live life on our own terms.  That you have the right to be an individual.”

If Udall were honest, he would have added “. . . about sex” after each of those clauses because he doesn’t seem to appreciate freedom elsewhere. [Read more →]

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