Miller HudsonMiller HudsonJune 21, 20185min414

You know your life has arrived at some considerable misfortune when you spend a lovely Saturday evening watching Colorado’s Republican and Democratic gubernatorial debates back to back.  Surely there must be better things to do with one’s time: mow the grass, clean out the garage, or smoke some of Colorado’s finest? The first thing I noticed, however, was that Channel 9’s dynamic duo of Brandon Rittiman and Kyle Clark offered two young men convinced their mothers’ sons had turned out quite well. Smug hardly begins to capture their preening self-confidence.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonJune 6, 20186min465

Now that the governor and legislature have guaranteed regular checks will be forwarded to stave off any imminent collapse of Colorado’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), perhaps it is time to examine another unfunded liability that lurks in the state budget. As ominous as the term sounds, an unfunded liability is merely a debt – a promise to pay. In our personal lives we live with many such obligations in the form of mortgage payments, car loans and credit card balances. Banks trust (some of us more than others) that we will hold on to our jobs and punctually manage these debts.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMay 30, 20185min973

There were several flashes of bipartisan compromise at the close of the legislative session that provide a glimmer of hope for the emergence of a Colorado First political majority. It’s not a sure thing by a long shot, but it feels like our major political parties are starting to respond to pressure from voters who are enlisting in the “Lets get something done, even if we have to pay for it…” caucus. The legislature’s eleventh-hour approval last year for a reclassification of the hospital provider fee, exempting these revenues from TABOR spending restrictions, proved a harbinger for what transpired this year. During the closing hours of the 2018 session transportation funding, phase 2 of a PERA bailout, redistricting reform and more were pushed across the finish line.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMay 23, 20187min543

Last week the desultory path of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Colorado’s TABOR amendment found its way into Courtroom 2 at the old federal building in downtown Denver. Just one day short of seven years since their case was originally filed, arguments and a resolution regarding the merits of plaintiffs’ claims appeared no closer than they did in May of 2011. If ever there were justification needed for Shakespeare’s appeal by Dick, the Butcher, in Henry VI, Part 2, this hearing provided it. “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers!” felt more than appropriate.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonApril 24, 20187min271

The political ambush is difficult to pull off. Betrayal is always a risk (the opposing party may serve as your public adversary, but one’s personal enemies are more likely to be sharing a beer with you). Campaign managers must tread carefully. Finance disclosure reports often deposit a trail of breadcrumbs leading back to dirty trick conspirators, while what looks like an undefended vulnerability can prove a trap. Defensive strategy prioritizes ‘inoculation’: the pre-emptive copping to DUIs, restraining orders, rehab residencies, unpaid child support payments and bankruptcies. With the advent of the Internet, there are few skeletons that remain reliably stuffed into a candidate’s closet. Opposition research can locate your prom date, former spouses, disgruntled co-workers, boot camp buddies and credit scores.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonApril 6, 20187min262

At 6:30 AM on Friday morning April 5, 1968, I was driving to work at the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company’s Dupont Central Office building at 14thand R Streets in Washington, D. C. It was to be my last day before reporting on April 20 to the U. S. Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. I could feel a serious hangover coming on from the farewell party that had run past 2:00 AM the evening before. The test center personnel I supervised, half of whom were African American, had taken up a collection to purchase me the largest and most expensive Buck knife they could find. I hoped I would never require this formidable weapon aboard ship, but their thought was appreciated nonetheless. We partied hard and consumed alcohol as you only can when you are 22. Never one to listen to radio so early in the morning, I was playing an 8-track tape and looking forward to two weeks of vacation before reporting for duty.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMarch 14, 20189min871

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, 20188min259

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, 20186min1783

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, 20186min482

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.