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August 22, 2009 04:37 PM UTC

Greg Brophy Isn't Helping

  • by: Colorado Pols

Want to see what an elected official who doesn’t take their job seriously looks like? As the Denver Post reported yesterday:

A Republican state senator suggested Thursday that money now used for public schools could pump nearly $4 billion into highway construction in the future.

The proposal, from Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, came during a meeting of the Long-Term Fiscal Stability Commission, a special panel looking into lasting solutions for Colorado’s budget woes…

Amendment 23, passed by voters in 2000, requires that state funding for public schools increase every year by the rate of inflation plus 1 percent. After 2011, the 1 percent requirement falls off, and the amendment requires only inflationary increases each year.

“If you dedicate all of that money (the 1 percent portion) for the next 10 years,” transportation would see $3.8 billion by 2021, he said…

Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, said it was wrong to talk about redirecting Amendment 23 money because the commission had not yet discussed how education should be funded.

So here’s the first problem: Greg Brophy’s numbers are fiction. From what we understand, 1% of education funding over 10 years would amount to something a little north of half a billion, not “$3.8 billion.” Compare that to the state’s estimated additional transportation funding need of $2 billion per year, and even by Brophy’s orders-of-magnitude bogus numbers his ‘solution’ amounts to scarcely a drop in the bucket. It might gratify conservatives to propose turning Amendment 23’s hated mandate for education funding increases into a mandate for roads, but it’s not a real solution.

And then there’s the second problem. For those of us who follow the political underpinnings of this stuff, it’s the real problem. Reading this Denver Post article, you might reasonably get the impression that Brophy was, you know, participating in the Fiscal Stability Commission in a meaningful, good-faith effort. We might find his proposal technically or factually wanting, but we’d have to at least give Brophy credit for showing up to work on a solution. After all, this is the biggest crisis our state has faced in decades.

But then we checked Brophy’s Twitter feed–here’s what he was really interested in talking about Thursday morning:

Senator Morse wants create the Santa Claus wish list for state government first and then talk about how to fund it. #redco

Sen Morse rejects the notion that the Fisc Stab Comm should discuss the core functions of government. #redco

WSJ – appliance makers are waiting for a cash for coffee makers program. Cash for couches coming too? #tcot

my word, John Morse is a real collectivist. The Fiscal Stability Commission is meeting again in 0112 at the Cap. #redco

The conservatives own the conversation on the Fisc Stab Comm. We have forced the left to talk about the core functions of government #redco

Gov Ritter’s budget guy never once mentioned the need for a rainy day fund #redco

Gov’s budget guy: solution to long term fiscal stability is – get rid of TABOR #redco

So, ah, does that read like somebody making an honest attempt at engagement…to you? Because to us it reads like a disingenuous jerk feeding partisan belligerence to his Twitter followers while making unserious, self-serving “proposals” to the Fiscal Stability Commission–yet somehow getting his day reported in the news as a “good-faith effort.”

Much like Cory Gardner’s underreported “birther” buffoonery, there’s a media-enabled gap between image and distasteful reality with some of these people that, in our opinion, needs closing.


16 thoughts on “Greg Brophy Isn’t Helping

  1. He can’t do the math in a way that is helpful to his arguments.

    He doesn’t realize that useless feel good talk about core functions of gov’t is just that. Useless.

    Calling it a rainy day fund  is a lie. It would either be raided to send those TABOR refunds. Or it would be spent on another layer of asphalt  away from the metro area.

    Now- I like math.  Partly for it’s certainty, partly because I can do it.  I like talking about what gov’t’s core functions should be. And I like asphalt.  But none of this is what we need elected leaders to do.  It’s not leadership – in this case it’s ideological grandstanding. And just further proof that the party of no’s #1 goal is to embarrass the party in power. Politicize the weather if you can or anything else – and then blame it on someone else.

    I don’t recall Mr Brophy’s leadership efforts to establish  a rainy day fund. I do recall him trying and shame and otherwise embarrass what he saw as a confused Mr Marostica, who apparently, had the idea that fixing the budget was a good thing, while Brophy and the rest of his party thought not.

    So, based on this and the lack of a special session, I propose a budget cut and a legislative goal for Mr Brophy

    First- limit the 2010 legislative session to just three weeks. Make the leadership focus on just the things that need continuing or annual renewal.  Limit the members to just one legislative proposal instead of 5. And Mr Brophy can make his the creation of a rainy day fund. Hell- he could fund it with the billions and billions available when the Amendment 23 +1% is no longer required.

  2. Where was his support on Amendment 59?

    That amendment kept the best of TABOR, scrapped the worst, and created a rainy day fund for sustainable funding.  

    Would have been part of the answer for roads and schools funding.  

  3. He does bring up a couple of good points.

    First, we should be talking about what the core functions of the state government are. I think we’ll find that 99.9% of our funding is going to those core functions, but it is always a good idea to take a step back and verify.

    Second, a rainy day fund is a good idea. Especially with the fiscal constraints we are under, we are much better off with one. It will take major political will to leave it for a rainy day though.

    Even a buffoon can occasionally bring up a valid point.

    1. is that Brophy doesn’t regard public education as  core function of government. And I would be curious to know what his definition is, considering prisoners are being furloughed, bridges are falling apart, and higher education just saw $80 million disappear on it.

      But building more roads out in the boondocks while killing off schools in places where people actually live seems to be Brophy’s “core function.”  

    2. In an excellent column comparing our relative investments in Prisons, Healthcare and Education, Nicholas D. Kristof put them in an enlightening perspective (one that Brophy probably hasn’t considered, and even if he had, would surely disagree with):

      At a time when we Americans may abandon health care reform because it supposedly is “too expensive,” how is it that we can afford to imprison people like Curtis Wilkerson?

      Mr. Wilkerson is serving a life sentence in California – for stealing a $2.50 pair of socks.


      Astonishingly, many politicians seem to think that we should lead the world in prisons, not in health care or education.

      Kristof goes on to cite some shocking numbers:

      California spends $216,000 annually on each inmate in the juvenile justice system. In contrast, it spends only $8,000 on each child attending the troubled Oakland public school system, according to the Urban Strategies Council.

      He concludes with:

      Opponents of universal health care and early childhood education say we can’t afford them. Granted, deficits are a real constraint and we can’t do everything, and prison reform won’t come near to fully financing health care reform. Still, would we rather use scarce resources to educate children and heal the sick, or to imprison people because they used drugs or stole a pair of socks?

      I don’t have the equivalent numbers for Colorado, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if they are in approximately the same ratio as California and many other states.

      I believe it was in Obama’s Op-Ed piece this week regarding the tragic fact that what we squandered in just 3 years of the Iraq War could have funded 10 years of our health care reform.

      So, yes Sen. Brophy, let’s have this discussion about the core functions of government and the relative funding of each.

      1. Is it a core function of government to enforce the rule of law and punish those who break it?  

        Clearly, it is.  

        But even more than that, it’s something that only government is vested with the authority to do.  

        On the other hand, you may think that a core function of government is to teach children and give you band aids.  And that’s fine.

        But those are both things that entities other than the government can (and actually) do.  

        So when it comes time to prioritize what we, as taxpayers, want of our government, I would hope that we could all agree that the things that only government can and should do are first on the list.  

        1. … I’m fairly sure you would love to abolish the Department of Education (along with most of the modern-day cabinet positions).  Well, that train left the station over a century ago.

          In other heartbreaking news (for you), the crypto-conservative Denver Post today came out in complete support of the Public Option as key to insurance reform.  I suspect they ran the numbers and realized this is good for business, as well as good socio-economic policy in general.

          Nice try.

          1. When did that change?  Or was the Denver paper landscape always Right and Right-er in your mind?

            Anyway, since you can’t seem to decide whether you’re talking about state or federal issues, or pay any attention to what I actually said, I won’t waste any more time here.  

            1. So I do see things like prisons, education and healthcare services as a continuum from Federal, State, Local, and yes, Private sources.

              Since you (recalling some of your earlier posts) make a big deal of Federal vs. State issues, I’ll go out on a limb here and posit that you are a Ron Paul acolyte.  That’s fine, but it doesn’t appear that you or I will significantly alter our fundamental philosophical differences.

              The point of Kristof’s article was actually that we are wasting far too much taxpayer money on warehousing people that make really stupid choices about using drugs.  He goes on to say as a result:

              Astonishingly, many politicians seem to think that we should lead the world in prisons, not in health care or education. The United States is anomalous among industrialized countries in the high proportion of people we incarcerate; likewise, we stand out in the high proportion of people who have no medical care – and partly as a result, our health care outcomes such as life expectancy and infant mortality are unusually poor.

              So perhaps you and I might have some common ground in that by reducing the number of superfluous or counter-productive drug usage laws, we’d have fewer $49,000/year inmates to take care of, and the we would have the happier debate about what to do with the leftover money — tax rebates or more social services…

                1. But in our current political climate where politicians talking to voters honestly is punished, and rarely rewarded, stifles consideration of any such “risky” solutions, even in the face of overwhelming data to indicate likely success.  

                  And I’m sure that Ritter, while certainly compasionate in instituting more drug treatment/diversion programs, isn’t about to advocate a socially liberal position of de-emphasizing procecution for illegal drug use.

                  More from Kristoff’s column:

                  “Decriminalization has had no adverse effect on drug usage rates in Portugal,” notes a report this year from the Cato Institute. It notes that drug use appears to be lower in Portugal than in most other European countries, and that Portuguese public opinion is strongly behind this approach.

                  A new United Nations study, World Drug Report 2009, commends the Portuguese experiment and urges countries to continue to pursue traffickers while largely avoiding imprisoning users. Instead, it suggests that users, particularly addicts, should get treatment.

                  Senator Webb has introduced legislation that would create a national commission to investigate criminal justice issues – for such a commission may be the best way to depoliticize the issue and give feckless politicians the cover they need to institute changes.

                  This is going to take another 10-20 years of generational shift, IMO.

        2. to insure that every child gets a good education. Because if we don’t do that, we then fall behind the rest of the world and it drastically reduces our options.

          That does not mean it must be public schools as those have done a horrible job for the poor. But it does mean the state figures out a range of approaches that gets the job done.

  4. Unfortunately Brophy and the other Rs on the commission didn’t really want to talk about the core functions of government.  Morse was trying to say, “let’s figure out the kind of Colorado government we want to have, and then work backwards to see how we get there.”  Brophy and others refused to go there, because they didn’t want to expose how much money it would take to get to a healthy state of Colorado government.  This constant talk of reducing government should have a rational limit, but in spite of testimony at the commission from the likes of Hank Brown, Brad Young, Norma Anderson, and other Republican leaders, Brophy and his folks want to keep the tired mantra of government is too big going, and really don’t want to answer the question of what should our government do.  

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