And, Tell Me, Who Will Pay for That?
The Colorado General Assembly session opened January 4, and Governor Jared Polis has been sworn in and has delivered his first ‘State of the State’ address.
A few minor partisan jabs have been made by various members of the legislature, but for the most part comity reigns supreme…at the moment.
More interesting than the political conviviality was the astonishing list of expensive programs advocated by the governor and legislative leaders.
Full day kindergarten. Preschool. Paid parental leave. More money for K-12. 100 percent renewable energy. Universal health care.
With each declaration, I ask myself ‘What does that cost and who is gonna pay for it?’ Behind the merits and demerits of such issues, there is a very big price tag. And every time we add something big and new, we make it harder to take care of existing obligations like transportation.
Funding will probably come from three sources. First, the state budget will have $1.3 billion of new revenue, mostly unencumbered. It sounds like a lot of money, but it doesn’t come close to pay for that list.
Second, because of the TABOR amendment requiring tax increasing to be voted on by the public, expect the word ‘fee’ to gain new verve.
Third, mandate and regulate business. If state leaders don’t have the financial means to pay for their agenda from state resources, they can use the coercive power of government to get some things done by mandating them.
Finally, expect attempts to undermine or eliminate TABOR.
To keep up on all this, the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (https://ncla.biz/) Executive Committee and Board will meet on alternate weeks during the session. Additionally, NCLA has a lobbyist in the capitol every day. NCLA will produce a weekly update report called Under the Dome. It contains a bill tracking report for legislation we’re following.