Penry’s “Hiring Spree” Talking Points Demolished by Post

The Denver Post did their homework for a change, and it’s going to leave a mark:

In the Republican quest to show that Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter has mishandled the state budget, no GOP criticism has hit him harder than the contention that Ritter has hired 4,000 employees since taking office.

Republican lawmakers have repeated the assertion over the past year, and it has become a key talking point for Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, as he runs for governor…

You’ve heard this argument already–it’s a waypoint in every one of Minority Leader Josh Penry’s recent stump speeches. Bill Ritter, as the story goes, hired thousands of new state employees since taking office, obviously an example of Democrat profligacy, dishonesty, etc…

But the charge doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, as the Post continues:

But an analysis of GOP claims shows Republicans are counting many state workers over which Ritter and lawmakers have little say in hiring, firing or furloughing.

And in some areas of state government where Ritter did add employees, he often did so at the direction of lawmakers from both parties – including Penry.

…Of the 4,446 employees Republicans point to as having been added under Ritter, 46.6 percent of those, or 2,071, were higher-education employees, whose hirings are not directly controlled by the governor or the legislature. Colleges and universities make appropriations requests based on enrollment and other cost factors, but they don’t seek approval for hiring employees, and lawmakers and the governor don’t lay them off or furlough them.

As the Post explains, the passage of 2005’s Referendum C mandated increases in higher education spending–that means new employees, mostly hired in the first two years after passage. Obviously, Josh Penry is no fan of Referendum C, but it is what it is.

Where this becomes truly laughable, however, is when we turn to the other “new hires” Penry is grousing about. From the judicial branch to Ritter’s “bloated executive office.” The answer to both these j’accusations from Penry is pretty simple: “why did you sponsor the bill to hire them?”

The second-largest category of employees added over the same four budget years was to the judicial branch. Like higher education, the judicial branch can request more money, but the governor and legislature do not directly hire, fire or furlough its employees and can only decrease its funding.

The increase in judges and other court employees statewide accounted for 13.6 percent of the 4,446 employees added during the four budget years.

And of the 603 employees added to the judicial branch during the four fiscal years – workers who include judges, probation officers, public defenders, and court employees – 307 positions came through increased funding from just one bill in 2007.

Penry was a co-sponsor of that bill.

“I don’t know anyone who begrudges Gov. Ritter for hiring judges, parole officers, and other critical personnel,” Penry said.

The third-largest category of employees added over the four-year period were corrections workers, who accounted for 539, or 12.1 percent, of the 4,446. Much of the increase in corrections workers was due to the additional prison staff needed after the state started double-bunking inmates in some facilities as a result of a rising prison population.

Penry and other Republicans have also blasted Ritter for more than doubling the number of employees in his office from 121 to 376 since being elected.

But of those additional 255 employees, 212 – or 83 percent of those added – were existing information technology workers moved from other areas of state government and consolidated into the governor’s office in an efficiency move.

Penry also co-sponsored the 2008 bill that made that happen.

This story is as bad for Penry as it is good for Ritter. It paints Penry as dishonest and opportunistic, a candidate taking legislation he himself sponsored and using its effects against his opponent. It blows an enormous hole in one of Penry’s most damningly-worded claims against Ritter, and leaves the reader wondering if Penry ever knew what he was talking about.


24 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. twas brillig says:

    is where Penry attacks higher education employees in an attempt to squirrel out of the corner he’s painted himself into.

    But then there’s this gem:

    “I don’t know anyone who begrudges Gov. Ritter for hiring judges, parole officers, and other critical personnel,” Penry said.

    No one, that is, except for Josh Penry….

    • Libertad says:

      How many employees has Gov. Bill Ritter added to the state payroll? The answer differs … [snip]

      Republicans: 4,446

      * Starts counting from fiscal year 2006-07

      * Includes executive, higher-education, judicial, legislative, other state departments, and employees of attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer

      Gov. Bill Ritter: 645

      * Starts counting from fiscal year 2008-09, the first year Ritter wrote the budget

      * Includes executive branch employees

      * Takes into account cuts made in August

      * [ed: avoids the fact the administration has controlled the state from 2007]

      What I don’t quite understand is just how the Administration has increased state employees during this downturn in state revenues.  

  2. Ellie says:

    No one that has followed Penry’s career in western CO or Denver can accuse him of campaigning on the facts.  They will grudgingly tell you he’s good at grabbing a headline out of the Denver Post and Sentinel.  

    I supported Ref. C and Penry was nowhere on the radar screen against Bill Owens, the bi-partisan legislative supporters or his predecessor in the Senate. Fortunately the voters agreed with Republican and Democrat leadership at the time.

    • twas brillig says:

      Similar to Penry’s howling about Grand Junction losing that critical care facility.

      In front of a crowd or a camera, he’s all for the John Caldera/Doug Bruce pseudo-anarchist rhetoric of destroying government. But he doesn’t miss a beat to complain when the reality of government intrudes–and government consists of things like critical care facilities in Grand Junction, parole officers, judges, cops on the beat, bridge infrastructure, and higher education.  

      • Retired says:

        Welcome to the big league young man.

        • Libertad says:

          As you recall the front page edictorial by Wm. Dean Singleton blasted Ritter for a massive Union Boss hand-out not seen since the $1.5 billion pay-off granted in Washington State.

          The real harms of this Union Boss pay-off will be in future years as production declines,  costs rise, and extension to local government costs are bloated up.

          Yet what many ordinary citizens are most stunned about is the crisis at PERA.  This $30 billion crisis has languished at the feet of Treasurer Kennedy and Governor Ritter as they’ve looked elsewhere to grow the government.  This coming crisis is currently at 600% the State Budget (government GDP).

          • Gilpin Guy says:

            So you are into conspiracies to “grow government” by those darn liberals.  I suppose you believe Oswald had help and Hale-Bopp will return with the Heavens Gate cult intact.  Such a sad little man to believe in all these little conspiracies to “grow government”.  Too bad your vaunted privatize everything plan sucked the live out of our economy and you worshiped corporate CEO’s who had hoofs of clay.

          • Danny the Red (hair) says:

            has everything to do with demographics and nothing to do with the Treasurer’s office.

            If I thought you cared what the real answer was, I would take the time to explain it.  But in truth I just no you are just a talking point buffoon.

            • Libertad says:

              Just what rational is there that mandates us paying more taxes to cover for these demographical anomolies?

              Maybe you can point me to some rich in theory NGO advocasy who’s premise is to promote as fair Colorado while assuring vulnerable populations can continue to grow and thrive … to wit The Bell.

  3. dukeco1 says:

    who have listened to Senator Penry lie about the interplay between Governor Ritters’ office and the oil and gas industry are not at all surprised by this garbage. He is a part of that GOP misinformation machine that operates outside of the truth at all times.

    Now joined by his primary opponent, Scott McInnis, in this clubhouse of mendacity, they are using the state oil and gas rules they are litigating against as a defense from Congresswoman DeGettes’ federal “fracking” legislation.

    The merry-go-round of lies just seems to never end… and Senator Penry appears to love to ride it.  

  4. Automaticftp says:

    This is SOP for a far right wing candidate–lie, distort, etc., to try to make your opponent look bad.  

  5. Republican 36 says:

    but he then turns around and betrays our trust by simply lying and using so called facts he knows are false. He votes, and in one case sponsors the the bill, that increases the number of state employees and blasts the governor for hiring the employees that he, Mr. Penry, personally authorized.

    In addition, it is hard to take him seriously when he says he isn’t running on the social/religious issues, yet he has never renounced his support for teaching creationism in public school science classes.

    He offers Colorado a not very well disguised stealth candidate who is nothing more than a dressed up version of the same old Republican candidate. He is in favor of imposing his religious beliefs on our children as science and he is obviously willing to lie to us to get us to vote for him.

    He believes the road to the governors office is achieved by trying to dupe the voters. His statements and his state of mind is despicable and betrays a fundamental character flaw . . . persistent and intentional dishonesty.

    • crazypoliticians says:

      Yesterday, Mr. Penry said in Pueblo that Republicans deserve another chance to govern

      “I want to talk about why Republicans can play on Democratic turf, and it has to do with what’s happening with the economy and how Bill Ritter and his policies have made a bad economic situation worse,” Penry said to crowd of about 10.

      I bet half of those people were his staff.

      • Half Glass Full says:

        Is that like an Army of One?

        Oh well, at least the Chieftain didn’t rest on the misleading word “crowd” but actually told us how pitifully few attendees there were.

  6. silverandblue says:

    Since the Beauprez disaster I thought John Marhall was the Fredo of the Mesa Mafia.  Josh Penry is cerainly giving John a run for the title these days.

    It ain’t the way I wanted it! I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says… like dumb… I’m smart and I want respect!

  7. weber says:

    The economy is great!  Keep hiring thousands of additional employees!  Our taxes can support it!

  8. ohwilleke says:

    Maybe that works in suburban Colorado Springs, but most politicans are proud to have created jobs, public, private or otherwise, when the unemployment is high.

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