State lawmakers could return to the Capitol next month to fix a drafting error in one of the last session's most important accomplishments, Senate Bill 267, the significant compromise that raised money for rural Colorado hospitals and schools, as well as transportation, by tinkering with the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
Republicans in the U.S. Senate are secretly crafting a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. What has Sen. Cory Gardner told the citizens of Colorado about this bill? NOTHING! Why the secrecy? Why no open hearings? The ACA had 100 open hearings.
Rural Colorado hospitals haven’t had much good news lately, with Colorado lawmakers eying deep cuts into the state and federal money they receive in order to fatten up the largest budget in state history. But give Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner credit for trying to steer some help their way, introducing legislation to permanently extend Medicare financing […]
Look out, House Democrats! That’s Sen. Don Coram snooping around your front door for clues about the budget in the latest video from Colorado Senate Republicans. Senate Republicans just raised the stakes in the multi-media messaging game under the gold dome. How can Democrats respond? Perhaps with a video of Rep. Mike Foote of Lafayette in […]
Now that the Colorado state budget proposal has appeared and lawmakers are wrangling over the numbers, the political narratives that will be used to sell the budget to voters and to defend against constituent anger in elections to come are taking shape.
This year it seems unquestionable that it will be a tougher budget for Republicans to spin than for Democrats.
For starters, there will be more spending. The budget is $26.8 billion.
The state senate passed a budget this week that will slash $500 million from hospitals across Colorado, a proposal that has set the halls of the Capitol buzzing and lawmakers considering a new version of a proposal that just a year ago was dismissed as an exhausted nonstarter.
A new bipartisan bill, Achieving a Vision for Education in Colorado, HB17-1287, sets up an advisory board to create a strategic plan for public education, preschool through college, for implementation up to 2030. The bill recognizes that the 21st century world is “fiercely competitive” and that a “world class highly effective twenty-first-century learning system is the key to Colorado’s economic success.”
The bill also says, “in recent elections, voters have been unwilling to balance local funding with increased amounts of state resources for education.” School districts could argue the opposite — that the state has been unwilling to ask for adequate resources to fund local schools.
The bill states that the current public education system, overall, is mediocre. Educators, bottom to top, can say that public school funding is mediocre. TABOR tax limitations have steadily reduced Colorado’s financial support of its institutions of higher education, leaving students to cover ever-increasing tuition bills and state colleges and universities to seek out-of-state students to bolster revenues.
Public school K-12 students over the last eight years have lost about one year of school funding to the Legislature’s so-called “negative factor,” the amount of money the state should give to public education but can’t because of limited revenue. This underfunding especially affects rural districts and districts with lots of poor kids, such as Aurora School District, which has recently been pummeled by A Plus Colorado for its poor achievement results.
Currently, the state is in a multi-hundred million dollar budget crisis, mostly of TABOR’s making, putting a whole slew of state responsibilities at risk, including rural hospitals, housing support and much abused roads, bridges and highways. The Legislature might get a bill through to increase the state’s sales tax to put more money into transportation. But some tax averse Republicans say the Legislature should be able to pay for transportation out of current revenues. Others ask, “and what might those be?”
Does the education vision bill recognize that Colorado is at a critical tipping point? Our education system can either end up like Kansas or Massachusetts. Currently, Kansas public schools are going bankrupt due to tax cuts that gutted funding. Massachusetts has a dynamic economy and a highly competitive public education platform — from its universities to its urban schools — due to strong public financing.
Maybe it’s time to turn the money conversation on its head. Instead of talking about taxation, it’s time to talk investment. Here is an example. Back in the sixties, former Gov. Pat Brown of California invested in the University of California and the California State College, now University system. UC added UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and UC San Diego. It recently added UC Merced in the central valley.
Until recently, these public universities provided low-cost, high quality education. California’s community college system, until recently, offered college courses at $20/credit.
Like Colorado, California’s public spending on education was severely constrained by Prop 13, a property tax precursor to TABOR. Unlike Colorado, California’s current governor, Jerry Brown, took the investment issue to voters. California’s citizens authorized billions of dollars in tax increases to spend on transportation and education, a reinvestment commitment bound to pay off for decades.
Colorado likes to grab companies from California. How long will that continue with our “mediocre” public schools? Certainly, there’s a tax point between where we are now and where California is that will provide enough re-investment to reinforce our dynamic economy and end our very poor funding of state responsibilities.
State Sen. Dominick Moreno, Commerce City Democrat, has been in office longer than many of his fellow lawmakers but is still the youngest member of the state Senate, a distinction he explores in this week's episode of “Behind the Politics,” a podcast produced by the Senate Democrats. The 32-year-old member of the Joint Budget Committee also talks about the "huge challenges" balancing constitutional mandates in the $26.8 billion budget bill introduced late Monday in the Senate and reveals the most embarrassing moment he's experienced at the Capitol, which involved a group of rambunctious elementary school students who accidentally summoned the State Patrol.
Delta. Montrose. Lincoln. Teller. Fremont. Las Animas. Morgan. Garfield.
These are a handful of counties in rural Colorado that are home to hospitals. Hospitals that not only provide access to life-saving health care for residents, but are most likely the area’s largest employer. These hospitals are typically smaller than their urban counterparts, but they are pillars in their communities, empowering people to build their lives in the towns they have called home for years.
The future of health care has been in the news a lot recently. The intended repeal of the Affordable Care Act, commonly called "Obamacare" has generated more questions than answers.
However, one thing is for certain. The upcoming plight of Colorado's rural hospitals is not in question. Last year, the state Legislature voted not to set up the Hospital Provider Fee as a separate enterprise fund that would provide vital funding to the state's hospitals, many of which are already operating at a loss.
To put this situation in perspective, you must first understand the history of the issue. In 1986, President Reagan signed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act into law. The law stipulates that all hospitals must provide life-saving care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay for the services. While well-intentioned, the EMTLA became an unfunded mandate for hospitals.