A Colorado budget shortfall? You don't say, Bill.
Good morning, class. For today's lesson, let's compare these two quotes from two news stories:
"Ritter said it's too early to begin slashing the budget and he wants to see what happens if Congress approves a bailout of the financial industry. He said estimates from his budget office indicate there will be no shortfall."
"Faced with a $1 billion state budget deficit over the next 18 months, Gov. Bill Ritter today proposed closing two prisons, slashing spending on education and furloughing state workers, who also wouldn't get a pay increase next year."
And what do you think was the period of time between these two remarkably different announcements?
The answer: Less than four months.
The first quote is from late September, 2008, when even Democrats in the legislature were discussing cuts that might have to be made. The second quote is from yesterday, late January, 2009, when the stark realities -- which apparently everyone but Ritter was aware of -- couldn't be hidden any more.
There had been some signs of life inside the muddled brains of Ritter's team: A few weeks ago, the governor's office admitted there would be a large shortfall (but still underestimated it) and gave this remarkable explanation of why the legislature's estimate was probably more accurate: "They (legislative staff) were utilizing a more current data source for their capital-gains projections." Ummmm...and just why are you offering any estimate if you know your data is flawed? Any half-decent geek can explain the computer science term "GIGO" to the governor. It means "Garbage in, Garbage out."
I also wonder how many long-time state employees wonder if their pay would have been frozen, rather than maybe getting a very tiny raise, if the governor hadn't lied through his teeth about implementing a hiring freeze.
There's a reason that the first thing Ritter is proposing to do is cut education and prison funding, and "temporarily" suspend the homestead exemption which lowers property tax for many senior citizens, and it's the oldest liberal trick in the book: He's setting the stage for a tax increase proposal "for the children" and with the specter of violent felons roaming the streets unless we go along.
Well, it's time to just say no to more liberal government expansion.
[They passed Ref C when times were good, but then didn't spend the money as they promised and didn't save any for a rainy day. Indeed, they did exactly what we opponents of Ref C said they'd do. Furthermore, as I warned at the time, the worst thing that could happen to Colorado after the passage of Ref C would be a recession after C had been in place for a few years. This is because Ref C raises the "baseline" for government spending not to the prior year's spending level but to the highest spending level for any year's spending during the so-called "five year time-out". It's that fact which makes Ref C an absolutely permanent tax hike and not a limited-effect measure.]
The Denver Post story says Ritter is proposing to close a "children's therapeutic hospital at Fort Logan." Are you kidding me? Could that be any more pathetic or transparent? Saying that the budget problems will cause sick kids to be tossed out of hospitals?
It's time to call Ritter and his spendthrift economorons on their ploy. Let them threaten the kids all they want. Let them threaten education all they want. Force them to make cuts to government programs across the board. We all have to cut back, and public schools can do just as well with less if we force them not to let teachers' unions divert money into their own coffers. Let a few prisoners out...I dare you.
You heard it here first: Ritter's announcement is a prelude to a huge proposed tax hike. It's time for Coloradans to stand up and say "Enough!" Enough of your lies, enough of your spending, enough of your lack of fiscal discipline, enough of wasting our money to buy votes, and most of all, enough of telling us that the world will come to an end unless we agree to higher taxes.
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