Senator Bennet campaign event

When: Sunday, November 22, 10:30AM  


Arapahoe County Democratic Party Headquarters

15445 E. Iliff Ave., Unit C

Aurora, CO 80013 US

Susan Daggett, Senator Bennet’s wife, will be dropping by the Arapahoe Dems’ office this Sunday to meet folks and discuss some of the issues Michael is working on in the Senate.  Stop by and find out how these issues may effect us here in Colorado.

Colorado Budget & Amendment 23: 2010 cuts, 2011 budget and education speding in general

Joe Hanel of the Durango Herald’s Denver Bureau wrote what I would call a crazy article for mischaracterizing Amendment 23 and it’s impact on education funding.  And two Denver metro legislators bite into his frame- thus proving they are idiots who don’t get it, or they get it but want that frame out there.

If this year’s formula includes a large deflation rate, funding actually could drop by about $30 per student. It adds up to a real cut of more than $20 million when multiplied by the state’s 780,000 or so students. Other factors in the state’s complicated school finance formula could make the cut even bigger.

Joe Hamel, Durango Herald, Oct 4…

His article implies that Amendment 23 has “locked” state funding for K-12 education to the funding from the prior year, + inflation +1%.

The closest he comes to making an overt statement of the impact of A23 is to say

Legislators and school advocates are trying to figure out how deflation affects Amendment 23.”

He’s crazy.

1) the A23 formula makes no reference to the possibility that inflation could be a negative number.  IF inflation in the relevant time period is -1.00%,   then  then it’s minus 1% in the formula.  

2) The formula is actually slightly more complicated than he implies. It starts with funding in the prior year, adjusts that for population change and then adjusts for inflation +1%.  And the 1% goes away after the 2011 budget.  And, the formula uses budgeting “factors” – and those factors can be adjusted so that that the net effect is spending cut no matter what the population/inflation/1% formula produced.  ANd that was already expected for next year’s budget.

3)  Nothing in Amendment 23 limits state K-12 spending to anything.  A23 sets a floor, not a ceiling.

And now for Denver metro legislators jumping into the crazy

Chris Romer

“I think inflation is inflation. Just because it’s positive or negative doesn’t change the nature of the beast,” said Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver.  Romer thinks it’s important school executives understand the Amendment 23 bump they’re used to getting “isn’t going to happen.”

Really,  Sen Romer?  A23 is forcing you to cut education spending?  No it isn’t.  For the reasons described above- A23 is  floor, not a ceiling.  If the floor produces a net negative to budgeting and you want the funding to remain the same- you could do it.  Now, you may think cutting K-12 budgets may be prudent in the current budget environment, but don’t say A23 forces cuts.

“Sen. Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, agreed. “”That makes sense to me. I hate for schools to take that hit, but on the other hand, with the fiscal issues the way they are … the public schools have to take their share of the hit just like the rest of the departments.””

If you “hate for schools to take the hit”- fight it. Don’t make a fake A23 argument that cuts are mandated, step up and say you think cuts are warranted or prudent and vote for them.

And the real problem with this bullshit frame is that it attributes power to A23 that A23 never had.  The bs frame says that funding is capped by A23, it’s not, it’s floored.  It says legislators have no control over K-12 education funding- they do. It says that the only way K-12 funding could be cut with A23 is with deflation- it can also be cut by adjusting the factors.

I want legislators who are accountable for their votes and what they do when they are legislating.  A23 doesn’t destroy that – even in 2010 and 2011.  

The Best States For Business – CO #4

Forbes is not exactly known for it’s liberal view on anything, let alone economic factors like taxes and which states are well suited for business development and growth.

Looking at Forbes’ data, according to the anti-tax, anti-government crowd here in Colorado- we should lead the nation out of this recession. Well Colorado and Virginia. But Virginia’s economic strength is partly based on the expansion in suburban Washington, DC and that expansion is mostly based on a growing federal gov’t. So let’s ignore that.


With a little more digging, it’s possible to see that CO, Utah, Washington, and Virginia  (the top 4 according to Forbes) have similar business tax climates.


Wait a minute!- why aren’t the lowest tax states the strongest economic growers? If the “taxes are bad for business and therefore citizens” crowd is right South Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Nevada,and Florida (the best 5 for “business tax environment”) should be growing best and leading us out of this recession.  

SD, FL, and NV are getting killed.  AK and WY are adding jobs and forecasts for them are better than most states. BUT – take energy extraction out of the mix and they are doing worse. So, they are doing better because of O&G extraction- but their severance taxes and regulatory environment are both “worse” than ours in CO.  CO’s severance tax is less than 1/2 of WY’s and less than 1/3rd of AK’s.



How could this be? If other states’ have higher O&G severance taxes, production there should be getting killed,right?

If in general Colorado taxes  are too high and regulations overall are too hard on business – we shouldn’t make the top 25 on Forbes’ list- let alone the top 4.

According to the Tax Foundation (source above) NY and CA are two of the “worst” tax environments for states. Yet, neither are in recession as bad as many states with “better” tax environments – based on current and forecast unemployment and GDP in the state. (Yes, CA’s budget is all screwed up- but the underlying fundamentals there are better than in most states.)

Could it be that taxes, regulations and overall gov’t activity and the relative impact on business and the local economy are a bit more complicated than we’ve been led to believe by the CO R’s and kneejerk voters in CO? That lower doesn’t always mean better? Could it be that, in fact, the better question is a complicated assessment of not only how much a state collects, but from what sources and how it is spent?

By which measure, at least according to Forbes (those socialist wannabe-Boulderliberal bastards) Colorado does well.

Personally, I would prefer to see more home grown, local production in Colorado.  In the Forbes measure, we score high on having an educated work force. But most of our more highly educated per capita come from out of state.  Why is that?

Likewise, I would prefer Colorado better prioritize the things that give us such high quality of life scores. In addition to P-20 education funding, clean air and water, for example. Which would mean strict air quality standards (no more brown cloud, thank you) and strict water quality standards that would require fraccing fluids to be safe and controlled- starting with known ingredients.

And because that tax and budgeting process is and should be based on a more complicated assessment of not only how much a state collects, but from what sources and how it is spent, then I strongly prefer to have a tax and budget process that makes our elected officials accountable for the taxes they imposed and the budgets they created.  Instead, because of TABOR and other constraints on the process, our legislature and governor cannot really be held accountable.    Likewise, because of the voters’ poorly informed knee jerk reaction in this state to any discussion of increased revenue or removing budgeting constraints, our elected officials cannot even discuss it. (see AB and Marostica 2009)

President addresses students

I would support any US president addressing students. The sooner students learn that our President holds a special place in the world, as in:  leader of the free; the better.  It’s not just American exceptionalism, but that is a part.  

I watched the speech live on C-SPAN.   It was a conservative values speech and conservatives should be approving the message and encouraging President Obama to do more conservative messaging.  I won’t be holding my breath.  I expect the reaction will be more focused on straw man arguments and discrediting the messenger.   But this is where the national discussion is just stupid.

There are areas where all Americans agree.  Well, almost all and certainly conservatives and progressives. This would seem to be one of them: it is good and correct to work hard and in school, to be responsible for your own opportunity for your future and to realize that if you do not, you let us all down and  you let yourself down.

So use the teachable moment to reinforce this to any student who will listen.  In my kids’ schools the teachers won’t be using the the DOE/White House prepared “Menu of Classroom Activities“, though I will use some of it at home.

Specifically, I like the parts that ask students to think about why the president would want to speak to them and what would they say to students if they were president.  I also like the section about whether the student feels motivated because of the speech to do anything and if so what?

In our house, we set goals for the school year the week before school starts.  This typically includes sports and other out of school activities because it is just easier to align the calendar with the school year.  The President’s speech goes along with that quite well.  

He would be doing me a big favor if he would address the students again about mid-December and tell some heart warming tales about celebrating Christmas on a tight budget. Or again in the spring and talk about how big trips over spring break are not always necessary.

Whaat?! TARP bailout money is being repaid – with profit?

(I was not a huge fan of the bailout either, but there is no question that it’s being managed better by Bernanke/Geithner than Bernanke/Paulson. – promoted by ThillyWabbit)

As Big Banks Repay Bailout, U.S. Sees Profit

August 31, 2009, 3:57 AM

See http://dealbook.blogs.nytimes….

All the headline grabbing overhyped politicization of the TARP was that the taxpayers should kiss their money good bye because the Bush administration determined- correctly – that the banks needed saving.

Another round of wailing and complaining after January when the Obama administration – correctly- steered the bank saving boat to calmer waters.

Is it over? no

Could there still be losses? Of course.

But intervention to  save  the banks was the right move and all the dire predictions about nationalized banking just a bunch of bs.

As banks get more and more stable, the overall stability of the economy will follow.  I hope this time the recovery is led by US corporations and entrepreneurs not American consumers, but any recovery is a good thing.

Another R hat in the Senate ring

(Take THAT, NRSC! Minor edits include smashing red logo added – promoted by Colorado Pols)

From Tom Wiens

Just a few days ago I filed the papers for the Tom Wiens for U.S. Senate Exploratory Committee, Inc.  I’m emailing you because I want to know if I can count on you to help me bring Washington back in line with Main Street Colorado.  As a small businessman/rancher and former Colorado State Senator, I have the experience to take on Washington insiders and deliver results, not excuses.  I am asking you to right now, go to and give me your thoughts and show your support by making a contribution.

Why, you are probably asking, would I think about running for the U. S. Senate?  

I’ll tell you exactly why:  I love my country and Colorado and I am fed up with the direction the politicians in Washington are taking our nation.

I’ve been having conversations with people all over the state and I am hearing the same issues surfacing over and over again:

Coloradans are angry, and they have a right to be.  They are working twice as hard for half the opportunity, and are worried more than ever about losing their jobs.

People across American, and especially in Colorado, feel like the politicians in Washington aren’t listening anymore.  Many feel the politicians actually know what the average person wants, and they simply do not care.  Right now there is a monopoly of power in Washington and they are going to do what they want and forget about the rest of us.

The site is short on anything but a plea for cash.

But it looks like he’s serious.

I guess we’ll know for sure if he does Caplis & Silverman next week, which is when I’d guess Norton officially announces. Or perhaps if he agrees to show up in Keystone and get straw polled. Or maybe if he insults Dick W. and the straw poll.  


Denver West principal ends his abstinence push…

The article is no surprise. To paraphrase closely, the principal doesn’t agree that his school should teach teens about birth control. But the current comprehensive program that does teach abstinence and contraception will be retained.

When data indicate that comprehensive sex ed tilts toward fewer teen pregnancies and about the same amount of sex and std’s, it seems like it only helps and causes no harm.…

But read the comments from DP readers. Or at least DP comment posters, since it’s not at all clear they all read the article.

And here’s where I  gotta wonder- why is abortion an all or nothing proposition?  I understand the anti-abortion position.   Like most Americans, I could support some restrictions.  But if the goal is to eliminate abortion, shouldn’t reducing the amount of abortion be a desirable incremental goal?

Especially when there is no political will for a total ban.

Mesa County tells Energy Department Just say no to mercury storage…

The U.S. Department of Energy should take Mesa County off the list of potential sites for storage of the federal government’s mercury, the Mesa County Commission said Tuesday.

I don’t get it.  This is the same county tht said- hey- we don’t need to know what’s in anyone’s fracing recipe, and any attempt to require it is just unnecessary and useless.

So the good folks in Mesa County don’t need to know what the oil & gas companies are injecting, blasting or otherwise putting in the ground.  But the US Dept of Energy cannot be trusted to store mercury?

I’m worried about my grandmother.

She’s 95 years old – fit as can be, according to her doctor.  But she was born in an era when things were very different in the world.

And since my grandfather died a few years ago she’s been on her own. She’s a social person, attends several places regularly including church where she has friends and a social network. But the family is all scattered and none of us are geographically close to her.  After a lifetime of caution, thrift and hard work, she’s financially sound.

But that’s part of the problem.  She inherited from both her parents in a way that has given her great net worth.  Well into the tens of millions depending on the market for like assets at any given time.

She’s never been quite sure how to handle that  potential wealth. Nor whom to trust for advice or counsel.  Skeptical of paying lawyers or CPAs (she does her own books) and she’s afraid of making a mistake and unnecessarily giving away part of the wealth.  And while she occasionally has discussed income, cap gains and estate taxes like she was contemplating positive action to plan for the transfer of her assets, she has no estate plan. My father and his siblings split equally.

And now here comes 2010- where the estate tax exclusion goes to unlimited. I.e., there is no estate tax next year. And in 2011 it goes back to what it was a few years ago.  

My grandmother is Catholic enough to believe in sin, and likely believes suicide is immoral.  Bu she was farmer’s daughter enough to control her fertility and teach her kids to do the same.

So I’m worried.  Was this the Bush/Cheney R Congress secret plot all along to get seniors to off themselves? Wait until 2010 and beat the estate tax – but wait too long and your estate gets hammered again 2011?  Or is this some vast, bi-partisan plot to motivate seniors to find the exit?

We gotta fix the estate tax now- in this Congress.  I’ve written to Coffman- he didn’t reply.  I’ll try again after the recess.

CD6 Dems basically raise nothing

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

I estimate for a reasonably well known D to win CD6 they will have to spend north of $1.5mm. And more likely $2mm. (Absent some HUGE, mega-scandal from the incumbent.)

When the D candidates in CD6 reported 1Q 09 fundraising (both around $12,ooo) I thought perhaps one or both were holding back and would do something serious in 2Q.  

I believe both candidates also have a significant name recognition gap to overcome. (quick! name them without looking!)  

Virtually no one knows them.  Sure, they have many months to work on that. But they lack cash for any kind of media campaign and there is a lot of doors to knock in CD6.

And now we see 2Q numbers- a combined 13,000 of new fundraising.

I understand they are both new. But unless one or both of them start lighting fires and making noise soon- like yesterday – they’re done. Again absent some mega-scandal from the incumbent.

Short of the really insane, is there way for Lamborn to risk his CD5 seat?

I would think the semi-automatic and automatic R voters in CD5 would be more than a little concerned that their rancher neighbors are going to hate Congressman Lamborn’s entry into this debate on the “wrong” side.

I don’t know the demographics of CD5 that well, but it seems like a candidate needs both the ranchers and the EPC voters who work in offices to be competitive.

If Lamborn puts Piñon Canyon in play, or is seen to be putting it in play for the Army, I think his seat is at risk.

Just to be clear, I think the Army is probably not exaggerating their need for expanded training space and I would prefer to see that expansion in Colorado.

Denver Post gets it right on SB291

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Colorado Constitution requires the state legislature to provide a uniform and free system of public schools throughout the state. The School Finance Act is the vehicle that attempts to close the gap between rich and poor districts when it came to per pupil funding.

The act has been amended numerous times over the years, but its overarching goal is to augment local revenues with state funding so the financial resources don’t vary so widely district-by-district.

Problems began to arise after voters approved TABOR in 1992. That’s in part because TABOR’s revenue limits meant school districts collected less money, which resulted in the state paying a larger and larger portion of the cost of K-12 education. In 1994, local districts raised 47 percent of the cost of educating students. By 2007, that proportion was only 36 percent.

At the same time, local school districts came to realize that because of TABOR, they were increasingly unable to keep revenues from the School Finance Act and other sources, such as some grants.

Of the state’s 178 school districts, 175 of them went to voters and asked for a TABOR waiver, colloquially called “de-Brucing,” a reference to TABOR author Douglas Bruce.

Now, at least one county is talking about “re-Brucing,” which would shift more K-12 costs to a state already struggling with huge deficits.

SB 291 quite simply says that districts that re-Bruce would get no additional state money. Districts could still re-Bruce, but it’s hard to imagine any would if this passes.

As always, the real solution is to clean up the state constitution and remove the revenue limits and other provisions that so frequently put lawmakers in a Catch-22. But in the short term, SB 291 is a reasonable move to discourage local districts from unfairly passing the buck on K-12 education costs.

I dislike quibbling, but the one statement  I would perhaps differ with is that it  is hard to imagine any District would still re-Bruce if SB291 passes. I like to think they are right, but I know voters who vote no on every increase in funding to public schools, and I feel confident that they would vote to re-Bruce anyway. Though that may not be enough to get it passed.

But if SB291 can make it, then we’ll see which districts and elected officials and party leadership are true to their ideology and which were just squawking under cover of the School Finance Act.

As it is, if a district does re-Bruce and then lowers their mill levy resulting in less local funding for the school district, then the State budget has to make up that loss, up to a point. (The SFA is not as simple as we might wish. But per pupil funding is preserved to some minimum which no district is currently close to.)

So advocates for re-Brucing and lowering local taxes are saved form having to stand behind a resulting funding loss for the district since the per pupil number will have to be made up by the state.

I get the logic of some equalization across the state. But why should I pay my property tax to support my district and then pay  income tax and sales tax and whatever else I pay to the state to  support the other districts that don’t want to support their schools? Why should anyone?

That this is a Democratic proposal should mean it has wide bi-partisan support. I mean the Republicans are about local control and less taxes, right?  But wait, the mini-fillibuster (CSB) staged earlier this week and the insistence on referring to it as punishment for districts which choose to re-Bruce challenge that ideology.

I guess the Republican ideology really is that they want to be able to lower local taxes, but only if some other source will make up the loss of funding.