I will never forget the day I was sworn in at the Colorado State Capitol. Newly elected House Speaker Mark Ferrandino proclaimed that his leadership during the 69th General Assembly will be marked by three C’s: “cooperation, consultation and consensus.” Despite the highly partisan nature of the 2013 legislative session, I was excited to begin my first budget debate. With improved revenue forecasts and months of work by the Joint Budget Committee, the state budget was an opportunity to prove to Coloradans we could work together and pass a budget
Once the budget passed the State Senate on a party line vote, House Republicans approached the budget discussion with optimism that we may be able to make the budget better for Colorado through some common sense amendments.
I co-sponsored an amendment that would not allow individuals to withdraw cash from casino and strip club ATMs using their government cash assistance cards. This amendment was defeated by the majority.
My colleague Rep. Lois Landgraf, R-Fountain, offered an amendment to eliminate the developmentally disabled waiting list before we expand Medicaid, as those 2,100 adults currently on the waiting list should receive services before expanding eligibility. Sadly, that too was also defeated by the majority party. Amendment after amendment, whether it was protecting rural Colorado or cutting state spending failed.
It is disappointing that my colleagues in the Legislature believe it is more important to pass the largest budget in Colorado history without trying to work with Republicans. In this budget, Democrats continued funding for a corrupt Colorado Energy Office, after an audit showed that it was “unable to demonstrate” how it spent over $250 million.
The budget also creates new eligibility standards for government provided health care. Our priority should be to help people transition off of government assistance but this budget seeks to create a permanent dependence on government. Not to mention this budget will help implement and enforce the unconstitutional gun laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year.
There are portions of this budget that I do like. Our public employees have struggled over the last four years without a pay raise. I understand how difficult this economy has been on families, and while I sympathize with the public employees, I do not believe that the small business owners in my district should give a pay raise to their neighbors when they continue to struggle to put food on their own tables.
SB230 is not a fiscally conservative budget. This “budget” is actually a debt that will be sent to every man woman and child for the liberal Democrats’ radical agenda.
The people I represent in House District 47 deserve better from their government. I am proud to stand with Colorado taxpayers and the people in my district by voting no on this budget.
Rep. Clarice Navarro, a Republican, represents Colorado House District 47, which includes parts of Otero, Pueblo and Fremont counties. This op-ed originally appeared in the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper.