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February 02, 2011 07:41 PM UTC

Budget Playground Follies Continue

  • by: Colorado Pols

As the Colorado Independent’s Joseph Boven updated yesterday, the slap-boxing over House Speaker Frank McNulty’s “more cuts now” resolution wasn’t slowed by the cold weather:

The argument is over budget forecasting, with the Republican-controlled House wanting to reduce revenue forecasts to be safe, and The Democratic Senate wanting to accept the forecast, only making additional cuts when and if they become needed…

The traditionally non-controversial resolution provides the Joint Budget Committee with direction as to state revenue for budget planning purposes for the next fiscal year. However, this year Republicans sparked debate by amending the resolution to further ratchet down predictions made to the non-partisan Legislative Council economic forecast.

Democrats say that the additional $195 million that would need to be cut from the budget if projections were further lowered would amount to thousands of teacher positions and may needlessly affect K-12 education before it was necessary to do so.

Republicans say that Colorado should expect the worst and hope for the best. They say make cuts in the budget now.

We talked about this one week ago. It’s an odd choice for a battle, over a nonbinding resolution that symbolically “certifies” the amount of general funds available for budgeting purposes. It in no way constrains the Joint Budget Committee one way or the other. Basically, Republicans are saying that for the last few years, the Governor has had to come back and make further cuts to the budget as revenue projections failed to meet with reality, so they’d prefer to just go ahead and make more cuts now to head that off. Democrats point to, well, every business news page in America–and Colorado–showing that the economy is indeed recovering, and that sales tax and other revenues are stabilizing. With that in mind, say Democrats, it would be foolish to inflict another $200 million of pain on our schools before we even know it’s necessary.

Do you see the fundamental issue lurking just beneath the surface? Republicans want to presumptuously make deeper cuts now, while Democrats want to protect what they can until they know there is no other alternative. We’ll leave it to our readers to assess which is the more responsible approach, but we know which one we’d rather be selling the voters next year.


30 thoughts on “Budget Playground Follies Continue

  1. For the past three years the estimated revenues have been way off. That has led to uncertainty and constant revisions.  Maybe the GOP is right.  Plan for the worst case scenario and if more money comes in than so much the better.

    1. The Governor has authority to spend less money than has been budgeted, but he has no authority to spend more money than has been budgeted.

      Even if revenues come in greater than expected, the Governor won’t have the authority to spend the money.

      This is a very transparent game being played by House Republicans.

      1. I don’t think it can be put any better than that.

        If the revenue estimate comes in too high, the governor can always pare things down.  If the budget comes in too low, he has to call the Legislature back in to session to add funding for things we need to do but didn’t think we could afford.

        IMHO it’s better to have a responsive government than a staid one.

    2. I will be very happy to “sell the voters” next year on doing the responsible thing and making the cuts that must be made. Let’s cut the $200 million that past years have shown very well may not be there.

      What everybody needs now is certainty. Business needs certainty, and so do the schools. Even if that is a certainty of less.

      1. Why should we adopt that number. They haven’t set forth any explanation as to why it should be $200 million. Why not peg it at $50 million? We shouldn’t assume they have it right until they can explain their figure. Just throwing the $200 million figure on the table is useless unless there is a basis for it. What is the Republican rationale for that specific amount?

        1. The Republicans want to cut spending more than just to match income.  This is their way of doing it.  If the money comes in where the estimates now say, then they get to return $200M to residents and start with a lower budget next year.  This is the same game Republicans play all the time at the national level. We all know where the money’s coming from.  K-12 Education.  Of course, Republicans have wanted to cut there for years.  This is just trying to be a little more sneaky about it and tryiang to fool the public.  Frankly, this is nothing but job killing skull-duggery.  If Colorado doesn’t have good schools, no one will move their business here and many will leave.  It’s that simple.  It’s just that Republicans don’t care.

            1. Maybe we should set next year’s budget based on the results we were seeing back in 2006 when we were doing well financially.  Or maybe we should base it in 2009 when the recession hit the budget worst.

              You’re asking us to believe that you (and apparently Frank McNulty) are better budget forecasters with your undefined “past results” than a team of actual economic forecasters who are looking at actual data?

      2. Just the latest Republican buzzword.

        We’ve had “certainty” of the Bush tax cuts for the last ten years and … well, here we are.

        If businesses and Republicans were half as responsible as you want us to believe, they’d have been planning all along for the “certainty” that the Bush tax cuts would expire in 2010. But they didn’t do that, did they?

        Give us a break. ArapaDOP.

  2. One based on the current estimate, another with 10% less revenue. It’s more work, but I can’t imagine that it’s twice as much work.

    Is there a reason this wouldn’t work?

        1. That’s always the trouble with Republicans. They don’t want to tell you where they will cut.  Good for you for calling ARApaGOP on this one.  Guess what, ArapaGOP?  The public is on to this one too.  Put up or shut up.

          1. It would save the state money for every child who moved to a better private school, while making those schools accessible to those who can’t afford them.

            Notwithstanding for your slavish loyalties to the teacher’s unions, this is a very liberal proposal that just happens to save the state money.

            1. Many private schools cost between $8,000 and up to $15,000 tuition each year. How is giving some public money per student going to make these schools affordable. For which income groups is this going to make these private schools affordable?

              Second, if this is available for all students it just means the rest of us are subsidizing those who can already afford private school tuition while public schools have even less money. Should tax dollars earmarked for public education be utilized to subsidize the wealthy?

              How does reducing public school funding improve public education?

              I’m not looking for platitudes and don’t waste time blaming the CEA. Please answer the questions.

              1. The Republicans want to replace funding for public education with vouchers that pay less than the cost of educating a child.

                That ensure that people who have enough money to supplement the vouchers can choose to go buy a decent education for their kids, and those who don’t have enough money to supplement their vouchers can send their kids to underfunded schools and go fuck themselves.

                It’s perfectly understandable, really.  Especially if you don’t believe in public education.

      1. That’s the problem: you absolutely refuse to “make hard choices.” The only ones making hard choices so far were Ritter and the Democratic leadership, in balancing the budgets the past couple of years.

        But then you Republicans come along and want to restore tax breaks for bull semen.  

    1. (as Ralphie says, if they could get past a single budget first.)

      And I suppose they could pass the bigger budget with the rider saying “Governor, here’s how you cut things if we don’t meet revenue projections…”

      Maybe that would have made last year’s Republican Party happy, but this year’s GOP is probably more interested in cutting the size of government than making an “accurate” budget.

        1. Maybe the Senate Dems should just do that.  Get the budget, pass the budget and adjourn.  The public would reward them handsomely at the next election.  Can you say Republican heads exploding????    

  3. And set revenue projections based on a combination of what Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Tom Tancredo think will be next year’s revenue?

    If we need “certainty” as ArapaGOP keeps harping, isn’t there more certainty using the standard budget forecasting methodology instead of just picking arbitrary numbers out of the air like McNulty does?

    Hey, if we’re going to start throwing around arbitrary numbers, I move that we INCREASE the projections by 2.5%. Because the budget office has been wrong on the low side as well in previous years. Makes about as much sense.

    Republicans: quit the ridiculous grandstanding and get to work coming up with the REAL combination of budget cuts and – yes – tax increases we need. Instead of clamoring to restore tax breaks for bull semen.

      1. for a small town of prairie dogs. For a reasonable fee I’m sure I can set you up with one that makes reliable budget predictions.

        I’m registered with Colorado BIDS, so just give me a heads up when the solicitation for bids goes out.

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