Obstructionist Republican lawmakers playing partisan brinkmanship at the state Capitol this week kicked political sand into the faces of everyone who lives in the metro area.
Gov. John Hickenlooper called the Legislature back for an extraordinary session this week to fix an embarrassing and critical mistake written inadvertently into a state spending bill earlier this year.
The session failed to produce a solution because the Republican-controlled state Senate pulled a partisan prank that will cost taxpayers time, trouble and a lot of money. Hardest hit, but not alone, are Aurora-metro dwellers. Government agencies shorted by this partisan scam include RTD and a wide range of cultural facilities. Outstate transportation agencies, however, were also sucker-punched by the stunt.
Some Republicans balked at the special session, using it as either a partisan club to swing at Hickenlooper or a tiresome soap-box for anti-taxers who continue to threaten the safety and welfare of all Coloradans.
The mistake prompting the call-back was written into Senate Bill 267, which was a surprising feat of bi-partisanship during a session that saw little of it when it really mattered. The spending bill boosted efforts to fix ailing Colorado roads and pump up critical state services hurt by the Great Recession and a dangerous GOP obsession with the so-called TABOR amendment.
The problem is that a long list of special districts are now failing to get promised and budgeted revenues, which all that glorious bi-partisanship wrote into SB 267 last spring. It means that RTD, already punishing communities like Aurora because of budget shortfalls, is getting shorted about a half-million bucks a month. Likewise, the metro-area’s Science and Cultural Arts Facilities District, which funds everything from the Aurora Fox Arts Center to the Denver Zoo, is also getting shorted hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the mistake.
In all, this mistake, which truly warrants wrath for state staffers who overlooked it when it was written, will short Colorado agencies and programs $4.5 million by the time state lawmakers can fix it during next January’s regular session.
Right or wrong, Hickenlooper, the only person in the state allowed to call special sessions, saw the mistake as critical to the governments unintentionally being shorted.
We agreed. Some Republicans didn’t. Too bad.
Arguing about the $25,000 cost of the special session was valid right up until the moment Hickenlooper invoked it on Monday. Fixing the mistake was a no-brainer for everyone but a handful of tax-protesting obstructionists inside and out of the Colorado Republican ranks. These misled and misleading fans of infamous and felonious tax-protester Douglas Bruce, who authored the broken Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights Amendment, hold the majority of the state GOP hostage by threatening to invoke a vengeful base unless they get NRA-like compliance.
Republicans across the state suffer from these extortionists, but all of Colorado is deeply and regularly hurt by a group that not only thrives on partisan battles anywhere they can create them, but their puerile, anarchistic view of TABOR continues to hurt every corner of the state. We frequently remind readers that not one, single state has ever created its own TABOR, seeing how fatally flawed it is.
Democrats run the House. The GOP, however, has bludgeoned Colorado residents with their one-seat obstructionism in the state Senate for a few years now.
But this stunt has gone too far.
Lawmakers will return in January and voters will closely watch them and decide next November who runs the state. Unless these GOP partisan bullies change their ways, Colorado can’t tolerate any more of their scams.