Opinion: Moving right along
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
This is probably the busiest time of the year at the Colorado legislature. Every representative and senator is trying to get at least one of their great idea bills passed while looking suspiciously across the aisle to see what’s coming next.
The Joint Budget Committee, where I dedicate most of my time, is spending money while balancing the $34 billion budget and struggling to listen and incorporate the other 94 legislator’s priorities. We just finished “truing up” the 2019-20 budget, and now, we’re grinding through the requests and issues to fund the hundreds of “line items” that will keep the wheels turning in 2020-21.
Less available spendable revenue for next year will cause some highly visible requests to be denied, and those actions will likely hit the news in the next few weeks. Transportation and education — K-12 and higher ed — will continue to take the hits since we can’t control the other biggies like Medicaid spending.
Looming controversial bills are much anticipated. We expect a family leave bill, transition from private to public prisons, a “public option” for health care and a few others to be debated.
I’m working with county commissioners to get a bill moving that will help Northwest Colorado transition away from coal and gas production. While I believe that the ideas and leadership for change must come from the towns and counties, the state does have resources to help plan and fund projects.
I’m starting the stakeholder process next week on a bill titled “Total Cost of Health Care Expenditure Targets.” The concept is to assemble all of the parties involved and agree on goals, benchmarks, and methods to control the cost of care. Our task is to alleviate the disastrous impact on our families. This approach has been used in other states, but we have to design our own implementation carefully. I’m excited and honored to be leading the charge. The bill will not include government price controls or mandatory participation by providers.
I’ve already lost one bill with which I attempted to exclude additional small business owners from having to calculate and remit taxes from items that they sell and mail to a different location in the state. But it was at least referred to a task force for study.
And I have one bill successfully through committee that requires parental notification if a school employee is charged with supplying alcohol or marijuana to students.
I’m also co-sponsoring bills to support adult education, search and rescue, short-term rental licensing, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and a few others.
I’m continuing to serve as the co-chair of the Education Leadership Council and to push us toward a vision for the future and away from the next funding cycle or grant program.
With the Joint Budget Committee and other legislators, I hope to begin to eliminate the 3,000-person waiting list for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who should be receiving Medicaid services.
I know this column is all about me and what I’m doing. But after a long business career and eight years in the legislature, I’m in a position to work on some very interesting and important tasks. Thanks for allowing me to serve.
Sen. Bob Rankin serves on the Joint Budget Committee and represents Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Grand, Jackson and Summit counties.
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