A story from the Denver Post’s John Frank today that will make your blood boil–at least 65% of you, anyway:
Months after Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved a medical Aid-in-Dying ballot initiative, three conservative lawmakers blocked money to implement the new law on moral grounds.
The objection is one of a handful of examples in which Republican lawmakers used their clout to reject spending in the $26.8 billion budget bill that violated their social conservative beliefs.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration requested permission to spend $44,041 from existing fee collections to meet a requirement in the new law to compile data about the use of life-ending, doctor-prescribed medication…
Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 106 last year, after all–by the highest margin of any initiative that passed in 2016 in fact–a far greater margin than many other ballot initiatives that have passed in Colorado and are now considered uncontroversial settled law. As part of implementing the new law, appropriating a modest amount to cover data about how the law is being used seems like a no-brainer.
Unless you’re a Republican on the Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado General Assembly, that is:
“I find that (law) so morally offensive I cannot in any good conscience be voting for using taxpayer dollars for any part of this process,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican budget writer. “There might be a requirement in the law, but there’s no requirement in the Constitution” to vote for this money. [Pols emphasis]
And carrying out their responsibilities to implement voter-approved Proposition 106 isn’t the only area in which JBC Republicans are playing political games with the budget:
Other budget requests this year negated by Republican budget writers for largely ideological reasons included $5.1 million in federal dollars for the state’s health care exchange; $745,000 for a biennial student health survey that asks about sex and drugs; $18 million for housing programs for the homeless; and an expansion of a program to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants living in the country illegally.
It’s not unheard of for lawmakers on the powerful JBC to use their position to take potshots on pet political issues, but the number and significance of these moves this year is raising eyebrows. It’s possible that Republicans are taking more aggressive action locally to keep pace with acrimonious national politics, but that’s not supposed to be the way we do business in Colorado. In Colorado, we’re supposed to take pride in a bipartisan budget process that’s kept free–or at least freer–of partisan political games.
But this year, not even the overwhelming will of the voters is above the fray.