DelGrosso: Theme of session is ‘missed opportunities’
Author: Brian DelGrosso - June 23, 2016 - Updated: June 19, 2016
From the start of the session, House Republicans identified increasing funding for education and transportation and addressing Colorado’s affordable housing shortage as our top priorities. Unfortunately, our Democrat colleagues did not share our same priorities and instead focused on passing a partisan agenda that penalized, over-regulated, even publicly shamed Colorado’s job creators. Democrats rejected our proposals to reprioritize existing state revenue, and instead repeatedly argued for more taxpayer revenue. The reality is, we have the revenue to address our current problems, we simply need to prioritize how it’s spent. Even though House Republicans were able to pass some important bills, the overarching theme of this session was “missed opportunities.”
In my opening day remarks, I talked about increasing government transparency and accountability with Colorado’s tax dollars. I am pleased Reps. Kevin Priola, R-Brighton, Dan Thurlow, R-Grand Junction, and Kim Ransom, R-Douglas County, passed bills that repealed numerous outdated and unnecessary mandates, allowing state workers to focus their time and resources on more pressing demands. Additionally, Reps. J.Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, and Dan Nordberg, R-Colorado Springs, passed legislation to increase transparency of Colorado’s Department of Transportation, helping to ensure CDOT’s priorities are in line with those of Colorado taxpayers.
One of the most significant bills passed this session was Rep. Brown’s South Platte Water Study, which takes a crucial first step in addressing Colorado’s chronic water shortages and conflicts between the Western Slope and Front Range. This legislation has been several years in the making and Coloradans should be proud of Rep. Brown’s continued efforts to help our state meet its future water needs.
On the other hand, it’s disappointing that this session ended without any substantive legislation to address Colorado’s crumbling roads and bridges. This session, House Republicans made numerous attempts — including several budget amendments — to prioritize general fund revenue for transportation, but Democrats killed every attempt along party lines. Still, the biggest disappointment for Coloradans came in the last days of session when Democrats — for the second year in a row — killed legislation that could have invested $3.5 billion dollars into Colorado infrastructure. Republicans worked with Democrat leadership and addressed their concerns from last session’s version of the bill, but it was still rejected.
Equally frustrating was Democrats’ refusal to prioritize education funding. Democrats killed multiple budget amendments to prioritize funding for education. They also rejected legislation that would have redirected $35 million in Lottery revenue to schools, bringing Colorado in line with 27 other states that use Lottery revenue for education. While many Colorado schools are still struggling to meet our children’s needs, it is simply irresponsible to place pet projects above more critical state priorities.
Finally — in one of the most significant missed opportunities of the session — Democrat leadership once again rejected bipartisan legislation to ease Colorado’s affordable housing crisis. Despite growing calls from numerous Colorado municipalities, industry experts, affordable housing organizations and elected officials on both sides of the aisle to address construction defects litigation, Democrat leadership declined to entertain a solution — even refusing to pass legislation to study the problem.
While there were many missed opportunities this session, House Republicans consistently protected taxpayers’ dollars, defended Colorado’s free-market economy against the Democrats’ harmful attacks, and passed meaningful legislation to addresses important areas in our state. We stood firm against more government regulation, and promoted parity and transparency within our state government. On a personal note, it has been an honor serving the constituents of House District 51, and all of Colorado over the past seven years, and I appreciate the efforts and hard work of all our state legislators.