Is Water More Important Than Roads? Um, Yeah

Interesting story on Saturday in The Grand Junction Sentinel, with a really odd quote from Republican Sen. Josh Penry:

A Grand Junction state lawmaker’s plan to divert millions of dollars in mineral-tax revenues into transportation would have “a significant negative impact” on Colorado’s ability to meet its water needs over the long term, according to a Department of Natural Resources fiscal analysis obtained by The Daily Sentinel.

The internal July 8 analysis of the effects of Republican Sen. Josh Penry’s plan to reallocate severance tax revenues said the lawmaker’s plan would reduce the amount of money available for water projects by $106.8 million over the next four years.

“In this regard, ballot initiative 120 will have a significant negative impact on the state’s ability to meet long-term water supply needs by significantly reducing the projected inflow of dollars into (the Colorado Water Conservation Board),” the analysis said…

…Penry said the state’s analysis overlooks the fact the Department of Natural Resources’ budget for water projects will rise, under the ballot measure, at the rate of inflation.

“That’s bureaucrats being bureaucrats,” he said. “We expect they will scream over the fact that their budget is being limited by the growth of inflation.”

Penry said Colorado’s water needs will be addressed under his ballot proposal.

“The choice for voters is: Is the Department of Natural Resources’ budget more important than addressing congestion on Interstate 70?” Penry said. [Pols emphasis]

Penry is trying to be cute with that last quote, but it comes off as, well, stupid. If given the choice between access to water and a less-congested I-70, we’re going to go out on a limb and assume that most people would choose water.

Would You Rather Have Water or a Faster I-70?

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12 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Sage Sam says:

    as stupid does.  Josh wants to try and play politics for 2010 and just caot figure out that he out in above his head.  Taking a contrary position on the severance tax measure simply to oppose Ritter was plain stupid.  He know will have to look forward to being branded as a puppet of the oil and gas industry as well as the proponent of a initiative that actually took money away from impacted communities…not too smart.  

    But as I said, stupid is as stupid does.

  2. Water’s for fightin’, and Penry just issued a big fat challenge to his constituents.

  3. Disinterested17 says:

    . . . open up I-70.  

    But being more realistic, this is all a red herring issue.  $100 million doesn’t do shit to fix either roads or water issues.

  4. Republican 36 says:

    Senator Penry is in an intellectual box canyon.  Underlying this proposal is one ironclad ideological presumption on his part – no new revenues period, never raise taxes peirod and if you have to be disingenious by simply being untruthful about how moving money from one program to another won’t harm the program loosing the funds, so much the better.  His proposal is nonsense.  And for that matter is he going to ear mark the money for that portion of I-70 that goes through the Grand junction area?

    Senator Penry isn’t trying to resolve any real problems.  He is like the little dutch boy who puts his finger in the dike but there are more holes than he can plug. Instead of asking for more hands and fingers, he is attempting to sell us a mirage.  

    Senator Penry should answer the following questions:

    1.  Which water projects that the severance tax money was supposed to pay for will be cut.  Does he believe these projects are unworthy of state support and why?

    2.  What transportation projects statewide does Senator Penry believe should be built?  What does he believe the total cost of those projects are?  Is he willing to pay for those projects through tax revenues?

    If he ansers these questions honestly, he will quickly find that the only way to pay for worthy water projects and transportation projects is to raise additional revenues.  In other words, we are going to have to raise taxes.  He doesn’t want to talk about projects and required revenues to fund those projects in the same conversation because he knows what the answer will be.  By charades like the one he is proposing he just moves money around from year to year, now short changing water projects, next year short changing schools and the year after that short changing transportation.  By his methodology, one deals with problems in a piecemeal, ineffective manner while appearing to actually solve problems but in the end short changing every program. His policy is based on illusions and founded on ideology which has the virtue of simplicity but rarely makes common sense policy.  

  5. abraham says:

    It is a sad commentary on the legislature and the administration over the past 8-10 years, but it is becoming increasingly the reality that you just cannot rely on the state’s fiscal analysis of much of anything.  The numbers are really manipulated for political purposes, and both parties are equally culpable.

    Perhaps it is time to develop an independent fiscal office – maybe under the State Auditor – to start looking at these issues.

  6. Republican 36 says:

    He makes the bald statement that his proposal won’t harm water projects because the budget for those projects will rise based on the rate of inflation.

    1.  How does he know whether the current needs for water projects and repairs to existing ones can be taken care of by increasing the budget by the rate of inflation?

    2.  Has he examined the current list of projects to be paid for in the next fiscal year and will the funds he allots for those water projects cover the estimated costs?

    If he hasn’t asked and answered these questions then his whole proposal becomes a sham based on nothing more than an illusion that he is taking care of transportation issues without any detriment to water projects.

    By the way, $25 million per year over the next four years for transportation is a drop in the bucket.  The Colorado Department of Transportaiton is loosing $300 million dollars in federal funding next year.  How does Senator Penry propose to make up that deficit or address the fact that even before the reduction in federal funds the Colorado Department of Transportation was short over $1 billion each year.  CDOT, even before the federal cut, didn’t have enough money to keep up with road maintenance let alone new construction.  How will Senator penry deal with those facts?  His current proposal doesn’t.

  7. thumper says:

    Penry actually cute, or was he just being cute?

  8. Republican 36 says:

    After additional research, Penry’s proposal is nonsense on its face.  If he considers this sound policy, then Grand Junction needs a new state senator. Here are addiitonal provisions in his proposal:

    1.  His proposal is a constitutional amendment that would have a duration of only four years.

    2.  The funds diverted from the severance tax would be taken away from the CDOT Commission which is now empowered to set the priorities and spend the highway budget funds.

    3.  The monies in Penry’s proposal by constitutional amendment could only be spent on the I-70 corridor.

    So Senator Penry is attempting to appropriate state funds for highways by state constitutional amendment instead of through the annual budget bill. This will balkanize the budget and smacks of another Republican attempt to make the executive branch impotent in a particular matter and then blame it for not solving the problem for the express purpose of undermining the public’s confidence in our public institutions.

    And if that isn’t bad enough, CDOT needs  somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 billion to solve the transportation problems between Denver and Eagle County.

    His proposal doesn’t even remotely consider the real magnitude of the transportation needs along I-70 or any other transportation corridor in Colorado.

    Senator Penry’s proposal is silly.

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