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November 01, 2007 08:54 PM UTC

Ritter Outlines First Budget as Governor

  • 22 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols


Policy wonks, energize!

Click below for the full budgetary goodness.

Gov. Bill Ritter today submitted his Fiscal Year 2008-09 budget proposal – his first comprehensive spending plan since taking office in January – to the legislature’s bi-partisan Joint Budget Committee.

The proposal, which would take effect July 1, calls for a total appropriation of $18 billion, up from $17.1 billion in the current FY07-08 budget. The recommended General Fund appropriation is $7.5 billion, a balanced 6 percent increase from this year’s $7.1 billion.

“This budget is both frugal and pro-active in the services and programs it will fund,” Gov. Ritter said. “It addresses high-priority needs in education, public safety, child services, health care, energy and natural resources. It also allows us to modernize operations, offer services to rural Colorado and enhance funding to Colorado’s military veterans.

“I look forward to working with the JBC and the legislature to refine the FY08-09 budget over the coming months,” Gov. Ritter said. He is scheduled to make a budget presentation to the JBC at 9 a.m. Nov. 8.

Also today, Gov. Ritter submitted a separate $180 million capital construction request to the JBC and legislature’s Capital Development Committee. The request includes funds to renovate the State Veterans Nursing Home in Florence, upgrade the state’s public safety trunked radio system, and repair the deteriorating Capitol dome structure.

The capital request also includes projects on higher-ed campuses at Fort Lewis College in Durango, the University of Colorado at Boulder and Colorado Springs, Pueblo Community College, the Auraria campus in Denver, and Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Highlights of the Total Appropriation FY08-09 budget proposal 

Children’s Services

Health Care – $34 million increase to provide health services to 62,500 children and 1,500 pregnant women through the Children’s Basic Health Plan (CHP+), and $24 million for health care for an additional 12,000 children who are eligible but not currently enrolled in CHP+ or Medicaid. This involves doubling outreach efforts for CHP+.

Child Welfare – $479,000 for six new employees in the Department of Human Services to monitor county foster care programs, oversee any necessary corrective actions, and provide counties with technical assistance and training. Currently, only one employee provides these services.

Child Immunizations – $670,000 to operate and expand the Colorado Immunization Information System.

Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program – $1 million to expand the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program, which provides programs to reduce youth crime, violence, child abuse and other high-risk behaviors.

Colorado Workforce

Workforce Centers – $4.5 million to offset decreased federal funding and restore service levels at Workforce Centers around Colorado.

Crime Prevention/Anti-Recidivism

Continuing Gov. Ritter’s initiative to reduce the number of offenders who commit new crimes and return to prison, the budget proposal requests $5.9 million for 12 programs to be administered by the Departments of Corrections, Public Safety and Human Services. By reducing the re-offender and prison growth rates, the state will save $58 million over five years. The Department of Corrections budget is proposed to increase by 6 percent, the lowest rate of growth in years. 

Education

Closing the Achievement Gap Initiative – $1.8 million to further the Governor’s goal of cutting the state’s achievement gap in half over the next 10 years. These funds would be used to develop and initiate a pilot program for implementation in six school districts with wide achievement gaps. This is part of the Department of Education’s “Forward Thinking” strategic plan, a rigorous effort to provide greater support to local school districts.

Higher Education – Increase higher education funding by $59.5 million, an 8 percent increase over FY07-08, including an additional $7.3 million for need-based financial aid, $1.7 million for work-study funding, and $800,000 for pre-collegiate programs and scholarships.

Libraries – $1 million to partially reinstate funding that was previously reduced to the State Grants and Publicly Supported Libraries Fund Program. These funds are essential to many rural Colorado school and public libraries.

Human Services

Mental Health Services – $3 million to provide mental health services to children and adults with mental illnesses, and $1.4 million for the new Forensics Unit at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

Developmental Disabilities – $10.6 million for staffing, facilities and programmatic resources for people with developmental disabilities, primarily in community settings.

New Energy Economy & Natural Resources

Residential Solar Rebate Program – $2 million for rebate and incentive programs for the installation of solar panels. These dollars would serve as matching funds from local utilities. It is anticipated that 90 percent of the rebates would be utilized by residential users. This is part of the Governor’s initiative to bring the New Energy Economy directly into Coloradans’ homes and businesses.

Fleet Replacement with Hybrid Vehicles – As part of Gov. Ritter’s April 2007 “Greening of State Government” executive orders, the FY08-09 budget proposal recommends replacing existing state vehicles with 445 E-85 and 91 hybrid vehicles. Offset by the reduced need for vehicles anticipated to come off of lease during the next two years, there will be an overall reduction to the budget of approximately $443,000.

Geothermal Research – $72,000 for a geothermal surveyor for the Colorado Geological Survey. Colorado has one of the highest geothermal potentials among the 50 states.

Carbon Sequestration – $72,000 for a Colorado Geological Survey employee to investigate and develop data regarding Colorado’s potential for carbon sequestration in the Cañon City area and northwestern Colorado.

Oil and Gas Inspectors – $779,000 for nine field employees to conduct on-site environmental assessments of oil-and-gas facilities as part of the state permitting process.

Veterans

Colorado State Veterans Trust Fund – The budget proposal adds $2.3 million to the Colorado State Veterans Trust Fund, which would restore the fund to pre-recession levels. The fund was established in 2000 to provide grants to veteran service organizations for a variety of projects to assist Colorado’s 425,000 military veterans. Projects and programs supported by trust fund grants include transportation to medical appointments, renovation of homeless shelter and veteran nursing homes, purchase of vehicles, supportive services for homeless programs and employment outreach.

County Veteran Service Officer Payments – The Governor’s budget increases state funding for County Veteran Service Officer Payments by $124,000 in FY08-09, more than doubling state support for this program.

Highlights of the Capital Construction Request for FY08-09

(All higher-education requests are for continuation projects, except for Pueblo Community College, which is a new request) 

Capitol Dome, $11.6 million: The enclosure of the Capitol Dome’s supporting structure is deteriorating and requires extensive repairs and renovations.

Florence Veterans Nursing Home Renovation, $2.2 million: Fourth and final phase of renovation project.

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, $5 million: Ongoing funding for the school’s Science and Engineering Building.

Colorado State University:

$15.1 million: Funding for construction of new and renovation of existing space for animal and veterinary programs.

$2 million: Funding to revitalize 35,000 square feet of classroom space in the Andrew G. Clark Building and replace antiquated mechanical and electrical systems.

University of Colorado at Boulder:

$11.6 million: Renovations to historic Ekeley Hall, which dates to 1890.

$7.1 million: Final phase of funding for Visual Arts Complex to house the Department of Art and Art History and the CU Art Museum.

$8.4 million: Renewal of Ketchum Hall, including HVAC, plumbing and electrical.

Fort Lewis College, $11.6 million: Construction of a new 29,000-square-foot biology and agriculture facility.

Public Safety Digital Trunked Radio System, $7.9 million: Ongoing funding for project that began in 1998 to provide software and system upgrades, and to purchase hardware and equipment. 

Ute Indian Museum Expansion in Montrose, $2.1 million: Funding would expand and renovate the existing Ute Indian Museum. The site was once a ranch home for Chief Ouray. The museum was opened in 1956, and this renovation would add about 5,000 square feet of space and renovate an existing 1,900 square feet.

Pueblo Community College, $3 million: Funding to renovate unfinished basement space in the Academic Building.

Auraria Higher Education Center, $25 million: Funding for project involving renovation of 143,000 square feet of existing space in the Science Building and adding 181,000 square feet of adjacent space. 

Comments

22 thoughts on “Ritter Outlines First Budget as Governor

  1. Ok, so we are going to allocate 2Million to buying up solar panels. It will require matching funds from local utility, so now we are up to 4M. Add in a little bit from the Feds, and realistically, we are up to about 6M worth of solar panels. Now, what will it do for Colorado. It will make us buy EXPENSIVE solar panels and generate a little bit of power.  In addition, we will use 72K for geothermal research (i.e. we are going to pay for 1 person to study this). AND we are going to use 72K for somebody to study the issues of CO2 storage in earthquake prone areas.

    Now how can that be better spent? 1 of 2 ways are MUCH better.

    • Use all of that money on getting homes to move off Gas heating/electrical AC to use geo-thermal heat pumps. That is a heat pump with the outside condenser buried in the ground about 10′ down. Why do that? Because year around, the that ground temp is about 55F/13C. It allows the resident to pay about 1/3 of the costs of heating/cooling. Not a big deal until you realize that heating/cooling accounts for about 60% of the home cost. That means that in the middle of summer the utility can lower their demand by more than a 1/3. And the homeowner pays a LOT less. The nice thing is that the usefulness of this is just starting to be recognized in USA. We do not have loads of companies making geothermal heat pumps. IOW, this is a perfect industry to start up here.
    • Geothermal power is EXACTLY where the 2M should go. By encouraging investors to come to Colorado, they would build geo-thermal power generators AND we could get startup companies built. Even though geothermal power has been around since the mid 1800’s, it has been overlooked due to the need to either have the heat at the surface or drilling down much deeper. It has only been in the last 40 years that we have learned to dip deep (and relatively cheap), but we had oil and gas to use instead. Basically, this is anther  INDUSTRY waiting to be developed.

    Here is our chance to develop new industries, and he is sending the money out of state (we will not have a solar panel producer for another 2 years). Basically, he is doing exactly what other states are doing, except for the leaders. CA started developing the solar solution 10 years ago, and really put money into it about 4 years ago. NM has focused on space. Mass.  has indicated this year that they are looking to spend multiple millions on perusing GEO-THERMAL because they want to own the industry (even though it belongs here in the west).

    Colorado is in the perfect position to own an entire new industry and ritter is doing an owens; following what the crowd does. Owens could have positioned us for true leadership in space and aviation. He failed. Leaders strike out and take risks. Ritter, like owens, is NOT a leader.

        1. Generally speaking, your comments are forward thinking tactically and strategically. Geothermal scientists should jump in here, but intuitively I’m on board with the energy stored in the ground beneath our feet. Also, the energy in the air that surrounds us. Build on Tesla.

          Specifically, I don’t usually respond with anything more than 4 question marks in it.

          1. It could be the idea that I was pushing, or it could be that I was ripping into Ritter. I was not certain which you meant.

            This site is hit by politicians and their aids. I am hoping that there are a few that have more brains than the ones that I have talked to. In particular, I have sent more than a few letters to Owens, Ritter, and even hickenlooper (as well as a couple of senators/rep). The problem the way that I see it, is that far too many of these ppl are JUST politicians. They know how to smooze ppl and steal their kids lollipop, but are NOT innovative. Hopefully, they will pick up an idea or 2 from this site and use it.

            Our state has SOOO much potential, but we are blowing it over and over. Owens absolutely drove us into the ground, but Ritter is really not doing much better. We desperately need to create industries here (several companies in a field will tend to recruit others in the same arena; that is what made silicon valley what it is). We need Aerospace, Movies, High-tech (esp. in the OSS world), Bio-tech, and Alternative energy. Now, I know the High-tech world, bio-tech (well I am more than 10 years out, but still), and Alternative energy, and a bit about Aerospace. These are ALL doable. The funny thing is that NM with Richardson is raiding this state and pulling the business out of here even though we are better suited. Why? Because the man is a LEADER (like Schwartzenagger and Romney).

            I like all alternative energy, but I know that buying solar panels is about the dumbest idea that I have seen. As it is, it sends money out of the state. In addition, As I mentioned earlier, a home  uses ~60% of its energy on HVAC. That means that if a home can gets it energy usage down, then the solar panel can be built smaller.  Right now, a solar install for an average home will run 30-50K. Assume 30K. If you can cut 2/3 (gas/ac vs. geothermal HP) of 50% (hvac) of the energy, then you have cut 1/3 of the power needed. That means that you save AT least 10K. That is a MAJOR savings. So, if Ritter would spend the money on converting homes NOW (by using that 6K), lowering the total energy needed,  at a later time, he can give up more tax breaks for solar panel. At that time, they will be lower cost / watt.  All simple math, that seems to escape Ritter and his cronies.

            As it is, Ritter is still pushing his idea of CO2 sequestering. That is a disaster waiting. Once the CO2 is in OUR VERY earthquake prone ground, it will be possible for a quick release. ALL insect and animal life (including humans) would be wiped out. Worse, the approach will cut the efficiency of the coal to about 1/2. That means that coal will double in price which makes it more expensive than ALL the other choices (save fusion 🙂 ). Sadly, his ppl are not looking at science, but how to get more coal sales going.

            Yet, something major that escapes these ppl, is that one of our bigger industries is mining and drilling. In fact, we have LOADS of old mines and old wells. It is CERTAIN that a number of the spent wells have high heat in them (that is what made the heavy oil flow easy in the first place). So, we have wells all over here, that could be uncapped AND then tapped for energy. That is, a simple generator put on top of these, and water flowed down and up. Likewise, the deep mines could be used for a base to drill from. From inside these, we could get much deeper very quickly. That is how you make all this  cheap and doable. But again, Ritter and his ppl are NOT innovative.

            I can only hope that somehow, this strikes one of Ritter ppl and they will THINK. Of course, I got a letter from one basically saying “don’t call us, we will call you” that was in response to the idea of an x-prize. In many ways, it was worse than owens ppl. But as  I said, who knows.

              1. Just their heavy maintenance, but they are probably tired of Southwest. Have you read my diary?

                I have actually contacted a number of Colorado politicians about this. Again their reaction has been interesting. They have all said great idea, but they would be afraid of losing their election. Again no leadership.

              2. Have you missed the announcement by Ft. Collins-based AVA Solar?  They are the thin film solar manufacturer that has made a major breakthrough in cost.  They have already announced a manufacturing plant right here in Colorado…..so, what Ritter has proposed will be supporting a home-grown industry developed by the folks at CSU.  I am with you on the need to develop our geo-resources, but those resources really apply themselves better to the obligations of the DSM targets for natural gas that were addressed in the last legislature.  Solar panels provide important attributes to a strained electrical transmission system — particularly when we’re at peak demand.  It’s going to take all of our resources to dig ourselves out of this hole…Both of you have some great ideas on geo — call up your legislature and push for help…you will find plenty of willing and able people to bring your thoughts to reality.

                1. I have been following AVA for a LONG time (multiple degrees from CSU). What you have missed is that production does not start until 2009, and even then it will take a LONG time to scale up (more than a year). In fact, I think that homes will not get panels until 2010. So during the next 3 years, it simply sends money out of the state and does NOTHING to help Ava. IOW, it is a worthless idea coming from Ritter.

                  Now as to the issue of increasing power, that is a misnomer. You have several choices. You can either increase power, or you can lower consumption. I am a fan of doing both. As to solar helping out the electrical grid, that is also incorrect.  The grid is strained for several reasons:

                  1. The grid was designed for a single point of supply and multiple points of demand. The problem is that you run in the same issue as we do on the Internet. If you do not keep scaling up the lines, then the supply gets overwhelmed (leading to blackouts by tripped transformers, etc). The solution on the net was to change from single servers, to a distributed situation. The solar cells that you mention help a bit, but the grid was never designed for it. Instead, if we lower the consumption, then the utility can slowly change the grid to be distributed. Of course, that begs the question, what incentive do they have? None. After all, they want to sell electricity, they do not want to be the carrier. So the idea of moving to geo-thermal heat pumps, would allow for MUCH lower consumption.
                  2. Our demand continually increases. We are still growing, but not increasing the power plant generation quickly enough. Solar cells on a home will add say 5-10KW of power that is really only available during an average daytime. Does that help a lot? Nope.  Instead, if we build 10 plants on the frontrange  using old wells, each of these can generate 10-50MW of power. This helps in a number of ways. First it is distributed power (not as good as solar, but still pretty good). Secondly, it it available 24-7 (unlike solar). One other nicety about this, is that Xcel will be encouraged to build larger lines to these power plants. Those lines can then carry power from wind and other sites.
                    Ultimately, it will lead Xcel to move to a distributed super grid (high tension lines running around from small grid to grid).

                  Now, as to contacting legislatures, I have been doing that for a LONG time. In fact, I even obtained a lobbyist card so that I could talk to legislature outside of my district. I have written a number of them (yes outside of my district). I have written Owens in 2001, Ritter, and Hickenlooper. AND I was ALWAYS polite (much more so, than I am these days). What I have found is that politicians are overall interested in what you can do for them, not what they can do for you. When I mention that I am a lobbyist, they got interested. When they found out that I represented myself as well as a small start-up (doing a project on conserving water; basically an internet connected irrigation controller that allows water district to control when they need to), they blow me off. The reality is, these ppl are politicians, not leaders. Of course, that is our fault for voting for them.

                  If any politician had leadership, they would take on some of Ritter’s budget and fight against these while using some new ideas.  That does not really mean my ideas, but just something that takes on ideas that simple re-hash of others. Sadly, the only ones that will take him on, are the pubs to try and trash the educational upgrades, as well as make the dems look bad.

                  1. This budget request does a LOT of positive things…for starters the reality of anyone seeing this money until at least a year from now is unlikely….that puts us ALMOST to 2009. Next step is to get a local utility REA/program in place to implement the program..we’re at least in 2009 at this point.  Secondly, solar rebates as they exist today almost exclusively benefit Xcel customers — the other 85% of the geographic area of Colorado hasn’t gotten to benefit from the Solar Rewards program — and these are locations rich in solar resources.  Third, solar works well in urban area where you have dense housing — geo is going to work best in areas where you either have a good sized back yard or live in a McMansion on your 40 acres ranchette.  If your situation is the latter — and you are heating yourself with electricity today…a conversion to geo makes economic sense on it’s own merits.  If you’re the former, you’re likely in an REA territory — some of who already have a great GEO program in place.  Take some time and read up on what the Delta-Montrose REA is doing for their customers (www.dmea.org)  Great program….works well WITHOUT any government assistance.  All you need is a visiionary utility to implement the program. 

                    This $2 million request by the government is just plain smart — it will give ALL of Colorado a chance to participate in building solar installations in this space…and will in the long term promote our very own AVA.

                    You missed my point on transmission constraints.  Whether it’s solar, wind, gasification, etc., having distributed resources in any service territory provides tremendous benefits in an already constrained system — while we solve the bigger transmission problems.  These are practical steps we can take TODAY.

                    You are spot on — we must also focus on EE and conservation — but we need the entire suite of solutions to fix this problem — EE, conservation, distributed renewables, geo-, AND state policy that encourages the right things.  Government policy that encourages the deployment of any of these resources is just plain smart business today — so it remains my opinion that our time is best spent supporting ALL of the solutions. GEO can be a big part of this — but, as I said earlier it can stand on it’s own in most cases with todays metrix of cost savings.

                    Keep up the good work….I’m not your enemy.

                    1. First, do not worry. I do not consider you an enemy. In fact, I do not consider anybody here in that manner (though I do give a hard time to pubs due to their extreme level of corruption that they have and allow).

                      I have given a lot of thought to what you have said, but I have to make a few points.

                      1. I like the idea that this COULD help get other utility companies to help out (matching funds). That is a good idea.
                      2. The money that you speak of in 2009 will not help out AVA. AVA will not be out with panels until 2009. As I mentioned earlier, Homes will not see these until 2010, and  more likely 2011. Of course, a simple modifier is to change it to 1K for solar panels and another 1K if made in Colorado (ABC).
                      3. A typical solar install is going to be ~25-40K. How many AVERAGE (and below) homeowners are going to do this? Only those who are in homes costing 400K and above i.e. McMansion. Offering at MOST 6K on 30-40K item will not encourage the low end person into solar.
                      4. There is NOTHING visionary about this program. A number of other states offer up far more. Basically Ritter is simply doing what other states are doing (esp CA and NM). That makes him a follower. Worse, it is only $2M. That means only a 1000 homes. That is NOT that many. In fact, we have about 1.2MILLION owner owned homes (well we did until all these forclosures), so this is not that many even in %.
                      5. Want to be visionary? Then offer this rebate on BOTH solar OR geothermal heat pump. Let me point out that if the set-up costs about 8-10K on a new home, and about 10-15K on  current home. With a new home, the 6K would pay a great percentage of these to the point that I would suggest 1K with matching 1K from utility. For a current home, 6K is about 50% of the costs, so again this will encourage changes. So how is this innovative? How many other states currently offer this? And yet, it would make a big change to our state (and the individual). In fact, it would allow all that gas to be shipped out of state and more severance tax to be collected. That is visionary! Esp. if the state will give tax cuts to any company that builds these here (i.e. encourage the companies to come here).
                    2. I would offer that you build a deep alliance between now and the ’08 session and try to get one or two of these implmented.  I would respectfully disagree with you on the visionary capacity of our Governor; let’s not forget that just three short years ago we had 1) no RPS, 2) a governor hostile to renewables, 3) no talk of revamping the severance tax structure and 4) a legislature so indentured to anti-mandate ideology that they couldn’t promote a socially responsible agenda if it bit them on the ass.

                      Today we have a Governor that ran (and won) in an historically Red state on building a New Energy Economy; he made good on his promise and saw the signing of some 23 bills last year — 23 — that included things like 1) doubling our RPS, 2) Demand side management and efficiency mandates, 3) regional transmission issues, 4) creation of a clean energy bond authority.  If you view the advances in an historical context I don’t personnally believe, under any reasonable measure, that you could condemn this Governor for not having vision.  Are we perfect?  No.  Are we moving in the right direction?  Yes.  This argument shouldn’t be framed by throwing grenades at the very people who are the change agents, be it Ritter, Hickenlooper or utility execs.  We have a big job to do in turning this old paradigm on it’s head — and I believe we have the right people in the right places to get it done.

                    3. Believe me, I would love nothing more than to see some of this pushed through. Of course, everybody wants all their stuff done :).

                      Owens was an absolute disaster to this state. Prior to his getting in office, we had budget surpluses, making growth happen in a number of directions, etc. By the time that he finished, our entire infrastructure is crumpling (save a major road that lead to SHITLOADS of money going to his buddies; partially in loans and the rest in construction). Owens and his cronies have set Colorado back to the 60’s.

                      Colorado is not, and never has been a red state (in spite of Doby’s beliefs). It is VERY much a purple state with a slight edge to pubs. So many want pubs want to think that they call the shots, but they do not.  The truth is that dems will vote dems and pubs will vote pub, and NEITHER have a majority at a party level. That means that a politician MUST sell the indis. This state is controlled by indis (though a number of counties are controlled by a party).

                      Now, as to calling Ritter visionary, that is simply not true. Yet. So far, all he is doing is what OTHER leaders have done. That is not visionary. That is simply looking at other ideas and saying that it worked elsewhere, lets follow it. At this time, he is simply trying to reverse Owens work of the last 8 years. Do not get me wrong. I think that it is  important. As I have been saying for a LONG time, Owens was an absolute disaster here. But again, this is NOT visionary.  For that, Ritter needs to do new things AND make them work. After all, any politician can persue new ideas and fail. For example, Owens when he pushed his water “vision” but did not want to tell us exactly what he wanted to do (yeah, this from the idiot who screwed up t-rex).

                      Want to see visionary?

                      • Push the research into altnerative energy that nobody else is doing (or little is being done). Geothermal would qualify, though not much longer.
                      • Push geothermal power using old oil wells.
                      • Work with LOCAL well drilling companies to get them into this field.
                      • How about doing the XPrize that I suggested (nice thing is that it is CHEAP marketing, and only costs when a winner occurs; win-win ALL the way around).
                      • Of course, I maintain that doing geo-thermal HVAC and power generation is visionary because little is being done on this.
                      • Bring back the high-speed monorail for the mountains only get it at least partially funded by private enterprise (ski resorts, gambling, etc).
                      • Take a careful look at prison: one approach is to literally warehouse them, but not in the same way. Build up multiple round rotunda, with a walkway around the outer edge, that the prisoners can access at different times (i.e. only available to 1 at a time). In the core is how you access the cell (including food). Do not allow these ppl to intermix directly. Why do this? because it can be heavily automated and allow the dangerous prisoners to be separated but not in a way that will cause issues with ACLU. But it lowers the cost significantly. Hell, if I had to choose between that for a few years or being in one of these private prisons where I share space with loads of ppl, I will take this.
                      • How about money for agriculture automation? One of the reasons why we have an issue with illegals here is that we have LOTS of jobs, that will pay more than Brazil or Mexico does. Ag and construction are the main 2. These are easier to automate then you can believe. ANd once these are automated, the illegals WILL leave, and the pay will go up for those that are able to work the automated equipment leading to new jobs for Americans.
                      • Chatfield and cherry creek) has the ability to hold more water and are willing to hold it for the farmers, but they needs a study (about 1-2M). The feds are holding off on doing this for several years. Our state should spend the money and do the study. Why? because water is (or should be) one of our highest priorities issues.
                      • How about more water injection in the front range basins? The state could clear the way to make it easier for excess water to be re-injected back into the aquifers. RIght now, these are used for residential watering and these really should be used for emergency times (or to simply bank the water ; think of our budget).
                      • I do no think that this is visionary, but I do think that it is a good idea; Allow gambling at DIA. If we start that now, and insist that the casinos move to new terminals that they build, it will not only pay off the airport faster, but will provide a load of jobs for the next 10-15 years.  I outline it in my diary. Of course, after having talked to about a dozen politician, I know that this one will require a politician who is VISIONARY and gutsy, or other their way out (hmmmmm). Of course this could make that person that was expected to be on their way out.

                      These ARE visionary. But simply doing what others are doing is not visionary.

  2. “Fleet Replacement with Hybrid Vehicles – As part of Gov. Ritter’s April 2007 “Greening of State Government” executive orders, the FY08-09 budget proposal recommends replacing existing state vehicles with 445 E-85 and 91 hybrid vehicles. Offset by the reduced need for vehicles anticipated to come off of lease during the next two years, there will be an overall reduction to the budget of approximately $443,000.”

    I think this is a good idea.  Anything that we do to reduce our nation’s reliance on oil imported from the Middle East is a good thing, in my view.  None of the OPEC countries in the Middle East are our friends, and every time we fill up our tanks with OPEC oil we send a $1 (or more) to folks like Hugo Chavez who mean us harm.

    We would not be mired in Iraq (and seeing our kids killed and maimed there) but for our addiction to Middle Eastern oil and our leaders inability to develop a long-term energy policy over the last 30 years – would we be there if Iraq was any of the African countries or Balkan states that have devolved into ethnic cleansing and chaos?

    Oil passed $96/barrel today.  That will ripple through our economy and we will pay the price of no meaningful energy policy in the form of inflation and reduced economic output just like we did when OPEC jacked the price of oil up in the 70s.

    I’d recommend more than what Ritter’s budget proposed, however (and be thankful nobody listens to folks like me who live in the sticks)

    (1) Designate a portion gaming taxes and mineral severance taxes to fund mass transit and alternative fuels (hydrogen, ethanol, bio-fuels) research projects – those taxes currently fund a variety of feel-good programs, such as the State Historical Society, promotion of the film industry, and tourism promotion that are arguably less urgent than developing mechanisms to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. 

    (2) To encourage replacement of gasoline powered vehicles in Colorado with vehicles that use alternative fuels:
    (a) eliminate local property and state and local sales taxes on ethanol or flex fuel vehicles;
    (b) eliminate state gasoline taxes on ethanol fuel sales;
    (c) administratively (i.e., by Governor’s executive order to state agencies) mandate that all non-emergency, non-construction state and local government vehicles be fuel efficient (e.g., > 35 mph) or alternative fuel vehicles (ethanol or other alternative fuels);
    (d) impose a gas-guzzler state excise tax on heavy, low-mpg vehicles (e.g., Hummers, SUVs, large trucks, etc.)

    (3) Adopt measures to reduce gasoline consumption associated with commuting, such as:
    (a) offer tax credits for work-at-home days for employees in Colorado and home-based businesses;
    (b) offer tax deductions or credits for amounts spent on mass transit (e.g., make bus/rail pass expenditures deductible);
    (c) impose parking lot surcharges/taxes (e.g., $0.10/space/day levied on owners of parking lots) to be spend on development of mass transit; and,
    (d) change school hours/days so that schools operate 4 days a week rather than 5 (saves fuel consumption in buses, also gives teachers a day to prepare for classes during the week) and school hours are 8AM to 5PM to eliminate the “extra” 3PM commute to and from schools to pick up kids.

    1. 1 problem the school idea interferes with extra ciriculars.  kids wouldn’t get back from football practice until 8pm.  When do they eat? study?

    2. Unfortunately, I can’t.

      First, kids aren’t going to learn more because we add hours to the school day, at least at the elementary and early middle school levels.  So this is basically cutting out 20% of a kid’s opportunity to learn at school.

      On top of that, the idea would force single parents to find full-day child care one day per week.  This would be absolutely devastating to many family’s ability to survive.  The 8-5 hours may be a little more convenient; but not likely, as the parents we should be most concerned about don’t have office jobs with regular 9-5ish hours.

      1. In most cities there are two afternoon rush hours — one at 3PM when schools let out and one at 5PM when people leave work.  Both commutes burn gas that, at the end of the day, enriches “enlighted” governments like Hugo Chavez and the Saudi royal family.

        In my neck of rural Colorado, the schools adopted a 4-day school week in the 1970s in response to the first OPEC oil embargo to save gas.  30 years later, they never resumed a 5 day week because students, parents and teachers liked it.

        While there may be some single parents who are inconvienced, the objective is to reduce consumption of OPEC oil.  I’d rather inconvenience single parents with a day of daycare if that meant reducing OPEC oil consumption.  The alternative is to create a generation of single parents from those killed in Iraq, and those in Iraq on their third and fourth 18 month deployments.


    3. (2) To encourage replacement of gasoline powered vehicles in Colorado with vehicles that use alternative fuels:
      (a) eliminate local property and state and local sales taxes on ethanol or flex fuel vehicles;
      (b) eliminate state gasoline taxes on ethanol fuel sales;
      (c) administratively (i.e., by Governor’s executive order to state agencies) mandate that all non-emergency, non-construction state and local government vehicles be fuel efficient (e.g., > 35 mph) or alternative fuel vehicles (ethanol or other alternative fuels);
      (d) impose a gas-guzzler state excise tax on heavy, low-mpg vehicles (e.g., Hummers, SUVs, large trucks, etc.)

      The idea is right on, but your approach is WAY off.
      (a) and (B) is the gov. picking what wins. In particular, there is some interesting tech supposedly about to hit the market. EEStor is about to come out with high voltage capacitors. IFF it is true, then it will KILL the flex energy market.
      (C) does not really work, esp. since the auto manufacturers are fighting this. Look at what happened in CA WRT electric car.
      (d) yeah, hitting SUVs with major taxes on the car will REALLY do the job! NOT!. Considering that the vast majority of coloradoans own a truck and/or SUV, this will never fly. More so, when you consider that the small toyora SUV has a hybrid that is getting 30-35MPG. You attack the hummer, yet who drives them? Those that can afford them.

      Really want to make a difference here? A couple of Simple solutions. You might want to mandate that all cars and trucks be E-85. It adds 200 to the price which is reasonable.But this is not really needed.

      Then important thing is that you do a tax on the fuel (gas and deasil), but make it time incrementing progressive. That is, charge .25/gal for 6 months, then increase it every 6 months by .25. In 2 years, you are up to a $1 more/gal. The most important thing to do with that is make sure that ALL consumers know that fuel costs WILL go up. This gives us time to adapt. That is VERY important. Now, I know that some ppl say to not hit the fuel, but hit the car, but that is silly. The fuel is universal. Yes, a prius uses it. But if they drive slower, they get better milage. So, now they are  getting 50MPG. So if they have to drive from FC to Denver, it costs them $8. OTH, the hummer driver will spend 40 or more. The point being that if consumers KNOW that fuel will go up, they will insist on better mileage AND will insist on e-85 (which should not have this tax). I would also suggest give tax rebates to businesses, if they have receipts.  This will encourage not just alternative, but it will encourage ALL alternative cars. It will also reward the none lead foot (bad for me as I am a lead foot).

      1. I agree that changes have to be fuel-based and not car-based – you can’t encourage electric, biodiesel, ultracapacitor, hydrogen, fuel cell, and other vehicles not yet popularized or even conceptualized through a specific exemption for certain cars.

        Taxing petro-fuels as you describe is a pretty good solution, though one that’s sure to irk a lot of people.  It also assumes that your goal is strictly to remove dependence on foreign oil.  If you’re looking for environmental fixes, too, you probably also want to figure out a tax on vehicles; a Prius is likely a significantly lower polluter than the same sized gas engine in a gas-only powered car because the engine doesn’t go through a lot of speed changes.

        Again, don’t mandate E-85 – that’s too limiting.  Mandate anything that significantly reduces dependence on petro-fuels.  Biodiesel, fuel cells, electric cars – all are worth the change.

        I do think suggestion 2.c is viable – as the fleet is replaced.  GM sells E-85 engines for most of its vehicles now, some new hybrids will be appearing over time, and some manufacturers are re-evaluating diesel which can use biodiesel.  (Personal example – Subaru is going to be introducing a boxer diesel which supposedly gets ~40mpg and will fit in the same space as their ~27mpg flat-4 gas engine; this will happen in the next year or two…)

          1. 2(c) was proposed to apply to the host of state vehicles that are not emergency vehicles or construction vehicles.  What state business is so urgent that it requires a gas guzzler?  A Geo Metro can get a bureaucrat to a meeting as easily as a Ford Crown Victoria, but burn less gas and reduce the state money being sent to enrich Hugo Chavez or the Saudi Royal family.

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