From a Senate Majority Press Office release (with accompanying thousand-word photo):
Today, Senate Democrats responded to the Republicans “plan” to balance the budget and to oppose the budget balancing plan discussed on the Senate floor today with House Bills 1189-1199. Yesterday the Republicans offered an ill-conceived plan to balance the budget which didn’t quite add up. Today, Senate Majority Leader John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) addressed it on the Senate floor, as he held up a copy of “Cliff’s Notes: Basic Math”:
Senator Morse’s statement: “Today, I present the Minority Leader with the Cliff Notes version of Basic Math. Because your math is so far off I’ve gotten you a book on math. And I’ve gotten you a Cliff’s notes version since you are coming at the 11th hour. With great honor I give you this book and look forward to your proposal.”
“After reading the Republican budget fix it is quite clear that they can’t add or subtract. The budget shortfall is $1 billion. The Republicans proposed a reckless “off the cuff” idea to fire state employees to save $17.8 million. $17.8 million in cuts to solve a $1 billion shortfall. Now they just need to come up with 50 more plans so the math will add up. The problem is their plan doesn’t even identify the first $17.8 million.
“The Governor’s budget proposal cuts state spending by $700 million. Removing corporate tax credits and exemptions provide the balance of the $300 million needed to balance the budget. It’s a balanced approach to serious financial crisis. It preserves as best it can our core values. It protects the most vulnerable of our citizens. It asks everyone to pull together during these tough times. The Governor’s plan demonstrates leadership. There’s an old saying that if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. It’s time the Republicans either offer a serious solution or get out of the way.”
The Denver Post’s Tim Hoover writes that Josh Penry didn’t appreciate getting called out:
“Sen. Morse, thank you for the book,” [Penry] said. “Let me remind you of some more recent math. 52 to 48. That was the margin by which the voters of Massachusetts rejected your tired arguments that budget cuts are impossible, and that taxes and fees are the catalyst for economic recovery.
“The math was the same in New Jersey and Virginia, and the math will very soon be the same in Colorado, too.”
We think this retort from Penry says a mouthful: about his motivations, that is. It’s about as frank an admission as you could ever ask for that electoral posturing is his biggest priority, not good policy. And in terms of a substantive response to the charge that the GOP’s ‘budget plan’ is based on poppycock fantasy math, more or less exactly what we said yesterday?
That’s where the bravado ends and the backpedaling begins, folks. Hoover continues:
Senate Republicans now say their figures have been misinterpreted. On Thursday, they put out a statement that said their budget proposal “includes a 0.25 percent reduction in state payroll spending for the current fiscal year, and a 4.4 percent reduction for next fiscal year.” They also said the plan “would require Democrat Gov. Bill Ritter to cut the state’s $3.2 billion state payroll budget by $19 million for the current fiscal year.” Republicans said the plan would save $306 million in the next fiscal year.
Republican staff told reporters that the 0.25 percent figure pertained to payroll.
But by Friday evening, they said that what they meant was that they were calling for a 0.25 percent cut in the state’s total general fund operating budget. That’s roughly $7.5 billion.
The thing is, nobody ‘misinterpreted’ anything. As Hoover plainly states, the GOP release cited exactly the “payroll” figures that were deconstructed by Sen. Morse. They were wrong, laughably wrong, and substituting a completely different suggestion a day later does not excuse the original grandstand founded on misrepresentations and bogus arithmetic.
We received an unusual number of messages from under the Dome yesterday about this budget debate. By all accounts, the level of factless acrimony and election-minded posturing is peaking in the legislature this year in a way that few have ever seen. We think the Democrats are doing as good a job as they can responding, but aside from a few quickly-buried posts on The Spot, we’re concerned that the full facts–like Morse’s shredding of the GOP’s math into bite-size pieces, and their feeble backpedaling in response–are not being adequately reported to the public.
And that, we’re afraid, is why Penry is so unflappably smug.