DENVER – Following Governor Jared Polis’ first State of the State address this afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Douglas County) issued the following response:
“Governor Polis’ excitement and energy in keeping Colorado as the best state to raise a family, build a business, and live your life, is worthy of much praise. Senate Republicans are ready and willing to represent our constituents while working with the Governor on many of the issues he outlined in his State of the State address.
We note that Governor Polis, as a Member of Congress for the last decade, is coming from a place where a dollar isn’t a dollar and where balanced budgets haven’t existed for years. In Washington D.C., deficits and debt are commonplace and generally ignored. Here in Colorado, our state legislature must pass a budget, and that budget must be balanced. Deficit spending isn’t even an option under our state constitution. With many of Governor Polis’ progressive policy proposals, it’s important to recognize that each comes with a price tag that must fit within the confines of a balanced budget.
On transportation, Governor Polis seems prepared to dismiss the bipartisan transportation funding bill passed last year. Senate Republicans want voters to have their say on the significantly different bonding proposal that was put into statute with Senate Bill 18-001. However, only a few months removed from an absolute rejection of tax increases by Coloradans, it seems that the Governor is determined to identify some different tax as a means for funding transportation. We have an estimated $9 billion transportation infrastructure need, and for the second year in a row, we have over $1 billion more than the prior year. Senate Republicans believe using $336 million of that additional revenue as the funding source to pay for bonding is a solution that can be implemented with a vote of the people this year. We believe it’s time to prioritize transportation funding and pay for it with the additional revenue that the people of Colorado are already sending to us.
On education, we believe an equal investment of $336 million into the Budget Stabilization Factor, previously known as the Negative Factor. That I.O.U. was created by the Democrat legislature in 2009 to the 178 school districts in Colorado. The amount of that I.O.U. is currently $672 million, and our proposal would cut that in half this year. Rather than retire that existing obligation, it seems that Governor Polis wants to allocate more money to education without first retiring that existing obligation to those school districts. Rather than require them to spend that money in new ways we should give them the money that we owe them and allow them to decide how to budget those dollars.
On healthcare, Governor Polis has subscribed to the idea that government solutions are the preferred method of reducing costs and increasing transparency. Only a few years removed from the disastrous effect of the Affordable Care, it seems that Colorado Democrats are anxious to, once again, hand over the reins of healthcare to government once again. That will reduce competition, discourage innovation, and trap consumers.
On energy, Governor Polis’ praise for our diverse energy industry contradicts his policy proposals that put the livelihoods of thousands of Coloradans at risk. Senate Republicans note that the goal of 100% renewable energy also means 0% traditional energy. We see no way to offset the current, positive impact of that one industry, which by some estimates exceeds $30 billion per year. We stand with the majority of those who voted last November in opposition to Proposition 112, and we will stand against similar legislative proposals moving forward.
With issues such as paid family leave, we would encourage the Governor and Democrats in the legislature to focus on providing incentives for companies to provide such benefits voluntarily. Requiring companies to provide such benefits will increase the costs to employ, and will inevitably lead to fewer jobs with fewer companies.
We hope that Governor Polis will exercise restraint and will listen carefully to the concerns of the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee. The people of Colorado have given us a constitution that requires us to operate within the dollars they provide and no more.
We welcome Governor Polis into his new role as our 43rd Governor. Let’s get to work.”