Editorial: The germ of a good idea
Vail CO, Colorado
Andrew Romanoff, Speaker of the House in the Colorado Legislature, might have a brilliant idea.
Working behind the scenes during this year’s legislative session, Romanoff, a Democrat, has been trying to pull together a coalition of legislators to sponsor a possible ballot issue that might, just might, fix part of our state’s constitutional train wreck. He’s already found a co-sponsor on the other side of the aisle, Sen. Steve Johnson, a Fort Collins Republican
As reported in the April 15 Rocky Mountain News, the proposed ballot issue would skewer two of state partisans’ biggest sacred cows.
Republicans will howl over the proposal to remove the government spending limits imposed by the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, or TABOR, amendment to the state constitution. Democrats, meanwhile, will bark about stopping automatic increases for kindergarten through 12th grade education imposed by Amendment 23.
Voters approved both amendments, but just about anyone can see why they don’t get along: one caps government spending, while the other requires annual increases.
Representatives in Denver have for years tried to juggle the two, while partisans have simultaneously blamed each other for the problems the amendments have created. The conversation is, roughly:
Republicans: “TABOR has saved government from itself by limiting spending. Amendment 23 is the problem.”
Democrats: “Children are our future and we can’t deny them an education. TABOR is the problem.”
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in the middle. Romanoff still has a hard road to travel to even get this constitutional fix through the legislature, much less past voters this fall, and you can bet keen-eyed liberals and conservatives alike are going to parse every syllable of the ballot language.
But the fact is that TABOR and Amendment 23 are two of the biggest reasons state legislators have so little control over the budget we elect them to manage. A carefully-crafted revision to both amendments might help in many other areas of need.