POLS UPDATE: Continuing Senate GOP intransigence over the hospital provider fee even after GOP Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s opinion upholding the legality of the proposed reclassification of the fee to exempt it from TABOR restrictions received a ton of press coverage this morning–here’s a brief roundup starting with the Denver Post’s John Frank:
[T]he attorney general’s argument runs counter to a nonbinding memo from nonpartisan legislative lawyers that argued the measure may prove unconstitutional because it didn’t meet all the legal tests.
Top Republican lawmakers — who revealed the memo in January with great fanfare — suggested it nullified any action to reclassify the program, a move they believe would erode the foundation of TABOR and allow for unnecessary spending.
Not surprisingly, the new legal interpretation did little to shift the conversation at the Capitol. Hours after its release, Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, called it just “another opinion.”
The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus:
The news offered a slight break from the partisanship that has plagued discussions, as Hickenlooper pursues the proposal as a means to address budget woes.
“It takes it a little out of the political realm …” Hickenlooper said following the release of the formal opinion. “I can only imagine that the attorney general and her office were under a lot of pressure … I respect that she’s resisted whatever political pressure was there.”
The pause from partisan bickering was brief, as Republican Senate President Bill Cadman of Colorado Springs fired back in the afternoon…
And the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader:
Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, has based some of his opposition on the OLLS memo. He said Monday his attorney’s are considering the new opinion from Coffman, but there are significant hurdles to passing legislation this year that removes the hospital provider fee from the general fund.
“Voters and taxpayers are looking to be protected from people who want to take the money out of their pocket and spend it wherever they want to,” Cadman said. “We’re now the arbiters between conflicting legal opinions.”
Given that the hospital provider fee fix has the support of a large number of traditionally GOP-friendly organizations like the chambers of commerce, it’s difficult to see how Cadman can maintain this position. Indeed, the only support Cadman really has at this point is from ideological pressure groups like Americans for Prosperity and the Independence Institute.
Who will Cadman listen to? The well-funded activists, or everybody else? Original post follows.
Following the release of a formal opinion from Colorado’s Republican Attorney General affirming the legality of a technical change to the state’s hospital provider fee to forestall painful budget constrictions on education and other critical funding priorities, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, demanded that Senate President Bill Cadman stop trying to hurt Colorado families–and get out of the way of a solution virtually everyone else in Colorado wants.
“Once again, convicted felon Doug Bruce’s so-called ‘Taxpayer Bill of Rights’ is impeding our elected legislators from carrying out their most basic responsibilities,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “But this time, there is a simple fix that almost everyone in Colorado supports. Reclassifying the hospital provider fee to help the state fund core functions like education and transportation, while protecting the equally important gains we’ve made expanding access to health care, is what stakeholders in both parties agree is the right thing to do. The only thing stopping us now is Bill Cadman’s one-seat right wing Senate majority.”
“Bill Cadman’s budget stonewall goes against the recommendation of nonpartisan fiscal policy groups, local chambers of commerce, and bipartisan regional coalitions across the state,” said Franklin. “With the Attorney General’s definitive opinion upholding the legality of this simple change, it’s time for Cadman to let an honest debate take place in the Colorado Senate. At least one member of the Senate GOP caucus has publicly broken with Cadman and Cadman’s friends at Americans for Prosperity on the hospital provider fee, stating that he is not a ‘puppet for out-of-state billionaires.’”
“Bill Cadman’s irresponsible budget stonewall against the entire rest of Colorado must end now,” said Franklin. “If it doesn’t, the voters will sweep Cadman’s tiny Senate majority from power in November–and they’ll have richly earned their fate.”