Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMarch 14, 20189min2661

The second PERA reform/bailout bill (SB 18-200) in less than a decade reaches the Colorado Legislature this week amidst a clash of competing narratives regarding who is responsible for the pension plan’s precarious fiscal posture. On one side is a tale that greedy employees have maliciously and surreptitiously burdened taxpayers with a bankrupting obligation that guarantees public school teachers, together with participating state and local government workers, for the onerous costs of undeserved and lavish retirements. In contrast stands the charge that a negligent Legislature, irrespective of Democratic or Republican majorities, has consistently failed to adequately fund PERA pensions for decades, thereby igniting a budget-burning conflagration, which the arsonists are now rushing to extinguish in the guise of firefighters. This finger-pointing minuet obscures a fundamental conflict of values underlying the debate ahead.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMarch 6, 20188min1270

Weathering a seven-hour public hearing is a chore that usually falls to reporters and lobbyists who are compensated for their misery. Last week’s expulsion drama in the Colorado House of Representatives, however, packed the public gallery with young women wearing black (mostly interns and legislative aides), together with a smattering of the curious. A century has elapsed since the Legislature last considered ejecting one of its members. That 1915 debate involved a Representative charged with bribery, a subsequent perjury and concluded with his arrest on the floor of the House Chamber. A Democratic legislator and four other women, by contrast, alleged eleven instances of sexual harassment on the part of Steve Lebsock — charges judged credible by an independent investigator. House Democrats introduced their resolution to expel Lebsock from his seat, commandeering Republicans into a brawl with implications for three Senate colleagues facing similar charges.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonFebruary 26, 20186min1740

Tax policy is a conversation that makes taxpayers' eyes glaze over, especially when the politicians responsible for protecting them against runaway confiscation demonstrate a weak comprehension of economic realities. Academic tax debates examine concepts like efficiency, suppression, avoidance and tax fairness. When “sin” taxes grow too onerous, for example, black markets emerge for cigarettes, alcohol and soon, it seems likely in Colorado, marijuana. From a macroeconomic perspective taxes should shear profits from the healthiest sectors of the economy, recognizing this will prove a changing mosaic over time.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonJanuary 30, 20186min3360

During the dozen years since Colorado voters lifted TABOR spending limits by approving Referendum C in 2005, legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle have performed an annual charade in which they profess their support for expanded transportation funding. 2018 has proven no different. Yet the record shows, that with the exception of the road and bridge registration fee imposed by Democrats and last year’s Republican provision in SB 267 authorizing state buildings to be mortgaged as collateral against transportation bonds, each a fiscal Band-Aid, the Legislature has consistently failed to propose a comprehensive funding program despite the professed consensus regarding its importance. While congestion grows as thousands of new vehicles are registered each month, our state highways are evidencing growing signs of neglect.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonJanuary 17, 20179min2000

I was discharged from the U.S. Navy in July of 1970. After picking up a new Toyota Land Cruiser for $4,100 (a deal made possible through a purchase program available only to returning troops), my wife and I drove coast to coast with our two month old son, Byron, in a crib that slid neatly between the two lengthwise bench seats in the back of the Cruiser. We spent a month visiting relatives and touring national parks. It was the kind of vacation you only attempt when you are young and slightly stupid. Fortunately, Byron was the kind of baby that lures you into having another — quiet, rarely crying and willing to sleep through the night in a tent and strange motels. It was at Jenny Lake in Teton National Park that I first encountered the mechanized, American family expedition. A large GMC pickup with a camper shell, a motorbike hanging in a rack on the front bumper, a fishing boat with Evinrude motor secured upside down on top of the camper and towing a small Jeep, pulled in next to us with four squealing kids.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonSeptember 27, 20166min2050

Almost any weekday this summer you could spot Denver conventioneers on 16th Street Mall shuttles by the colorful lanyards adorning their necks. It’s usually easy to discern whether these are visiting dentists, geologists, accountants or lawyers after a quick glance at their badges. But the recent 84th Annual Meeting of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) was a head scratcher. Seriously, who knew there was an International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association? Hosted in Denver by our very own E-470 Authority, the operators of tolled roads, bridges, HOV/HOT lanes and their vendors from across the country — and world —— assembled to rub elbows and celebrate what they view as a promising business opportunity. With politicians afraid to raise taxes and, in Colorado, voters reluctant to approve them, tolling has a bright future.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonJuly 21, 20168min1620

Asheville, North Carolina, straddles several valleys at the southern tail of the planet’s oldest mountain range. Nearly 500 million years ago, the Appalachians rose to heights that compare with the Rockies today, but they have eroded to a high point of just 6,700 feet a few miles away in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Straddling the Eastern Continental divide for hundreds of miles, and located within a few hours drive for a majority of Americans, the Smokies is America’s most visited national park. It is this central access to markets that has been prompting brewers to construct east coast facilities since Coors established a packaging facility in Elkton, Virginia, nearly 30 years ago. The recent arrivals are the nation’s most successful craft brewers. Their share of the national beer market might remain in single digits, but these are profitable enterprises.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMay 19, 20166min1930

RTD’s cumbersomely named University of Colorado A Line — it cost CU $5 million for the “branded sponsorship” — is an A Train linking Union Station with DIA, covering 23 miles of commuter rail that can be traversed in 37 minutes. With its April opening, Denver joined a growing number of American cities where travelers can take a train to a plane and back. Not all of these have proven a success. San Francisco’s BART extension provides access to nearly 10 million Bay Area residents, where daily commutes are frequently horrific and ridership has been high. Philadelphia, by contrast, runs virtually empty cars several times an hour.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonApril 12, 20168min1710

“Close only counts in horseshoes.” The old adage is nowhere more meaningful than at national political conventions. This round, Democrats are salivating at the opportunity to run against Donald Trump in November; but, truth be told, he is becoming increasingly less likely to emerge as the Republican nominee. One minor historical fact consistently overlooked is that never has a frontrunner been nominated at an “open” or “contested” American political convention of either major party on the first ballot. Colorado Republicans just made such a situation a little more likely in 2016. Think about it. If Trump fails, as appears increasingly likely, to secure 1,273 delegates before arriving in Cleveland, he will almost certainly return to New York as a footnote — albeit a lengthy one — to the 2016 Presidential race.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMarch 30, 20166min2110

Cal Marsella, who died March 19, was hired in 1995 as general manager at RTD amid policy chaos at the agency. Jon Caldara, who now heads the Independence Institute, was the RTD Board chair. Voters had recently rejected RTD’s attempt to de-Bruce. Bus operations were adjusting to legislation sponsored by state Sens. Terry Considine and Bill Owens that required a portion of routes be awarded to private companies selected through a bidding process, much to the consternation of the bus drivers’ union and several RTD Board members. Marsella was hired because of his experience in privatizing bus services at the Miami-Dade County Florida transit agency. “Guide the Ride,” a transit expansion proposal, was headed for the ballot in 1997. The brainchild of an alliance between environmentalists and the business community, it would be defeated 58-42 with opposition from Caldara and half the RTD Board.