Statesman reports Governor’s plan to try again on budget tweak–but the road through Senate will be toughThursday, May 7th, 2015
In a great article summarizing the death of a bill, changing the definition of the “hospital provider fee” under TABOR and thus freeing up $167 million for transportation and education, the Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland reported that the Hickenlooper Administration hopes to bring the legislation back early next session possibly using a dramatic double-budget visual to spotlight the importance of the measure:
By next year, this will be more of an “on the ground” issue for legislators, [Hickenlooper budget director Henry] Sobanet said Tuesday. Once the budget request for 2016-17 comes out in November, people will start to see the impact of the hospital provider fee on available dollars. “It will be more real than an intellectual issue.”
Sobanet said the 2016-17 budget will be developed based on current law. However, he said he would work with the governor throughout the fall and decide if they would do a “budget A” and “budget B” that would show the impact of changing the provider fee.
Unfortunately, it looks like Hick’s dual budgets will have to be extremely persuasive to convince Republican Senate President Bill Cadman, whose party sent the bill to a kill committee after it passed the Democrat-controlled House on a party-line vote.
Goodland didn’t quote Cadman, but the GOP leader told KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kafer Tuesday that the hospital-provider fee was the number-one bad idea proposed by Democrats.
Kafer: I’m so glad Republicans have the state senate… What is the number one bad idea you guys stopped?
Cadman: Oh my god. How much time do you have left? Let me put my list together and come back on. I will tell you though, my predecessor said, you’re better to be known for the things you defeated here, than the things that you pass. I’d hate to say it right now, but probably wouldbe the hospital-provider fee, as written, which was a multi-hundred million dollar hit into the TABOR situation, that died actually just as I was calling in.
Goodland reported on a committee hearing Tuesday, during which the hospital provider fee won the support of most everyone who testified, including business interests. Those opposed? Only entity: the ideological anti-tax Colorado Union of Taxpayers.
Goodland reported on what’s at stake:
Hickenlooper’s budget director, Henry Sobanet, told the committee without passage of HB 1389, three out of four general fund dollars available in 2016-17 will have to go to K-12 education, to keep the negative factor from growing. The negative factor is a budgetary device, first employed in 2010, to allow the state to cut funding to K-12. The total cut was about $1 billion; it was reduced by $100 million last year and will be reduced by $25 million in the recently passed 2015-16 budget.
If HB 1389 were to pass, Steadman told the committee, it would free up $167 million for appropriations in 2016-17. That could go for transportation projects or to reduce the negative factor. Otherwise, in 2016-17, the budget will be bleak. “This isn’t how the state’s budget priorities should go,” he said.