Weekend Wakeup with Chuck & Julie, Laura Woods, January 16, 2016

Station: KNUS, 710 AM

Show:     Weekend Wakeup with Chuck & Julie (Chuck Bonniwell and Julie Hayden)

Guests:  Woods, Laura

Link:      http://knus-weekend-wakeup.podbean.com/

Date:      January 16, 2016

Topics:  FASTER fees, Senator Vicki Marble, Ninth Grade Testing , Patrick Neville, Tim Neville, Conservatives, Justin Everett, Dan Nordberg, Lori Saine, Kevin Lundberg, Medicaid Expansion, Budget, Obamacare, Single Payer Health Care, Poverty Level, TABOR, Hospital Provider Fee, Enterprise, Frank McNulty, Dan Ritchie, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz

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HOST CHUCK BONNIWELL:  All right!  We’ve got Senator Laura Woods, who is one of the great conservatives down at the state legislature. We wanted to check in with her about the session. It has just started. The governor has given a speech saying he wants the Republicans to compromise and do what he tells them.  How’s it going, Laura?

HOST JULIE HAYDEN: Good morning!

COLORADO STATE SENATOR (SD 19) LAURA WOODS:  Good morning, Chuck and Julie.

HAYDEN: Good morning.  So, are you ready to compromise, and get rid of that pesky TABOR thing?

WOODS:  I got the message loud and clear that that is what the government wants me to do.

HAYDEN: [laughter] So, what do you see coming up?  I mean, it’s one of those years where, I think, as always, money is tight and so they can’t do too much sometimes up there.  But what are some of the things you see coming up?

WOODS:  Well, the case that we are faced with in the legislature is have to budget to prior legislation. We budget to the law every year.  So we’ve got the expansion of Medicaid, and the misuse of FASTER dollars over time.  And the reality is Medicaid expansion takes over 34% of our budget, education takes – well, K-12 – 37%, and higher education almost 9%. You add those numbers up, of the general fund dollars that we have coming into the state—your tax dollars — 80% is spent on constitutional required education and Medicaid expansion.

HAYDEN: Talk to me about Medicaid expansion, because this, you know, to me, seems to be something that we all need to be concerned about it is something we need to be concerned about.

WOODS:  It is something we need to be concerned about. According to the budget grief we got from the JVC this year, 1.2 million Colorado people get Medicaid right now. It has multiplied exponentially over the past years.

HAYDEN: Now is that under Obamacare?

WOODS:  It was partially over Obamacare but it was also over on Gov. Hickenlooper’s party raising the poverty level in Colorado–



WOOODS:  –so that it is 137% of the federal poverty level.

[Chuck distinguishes between Medicaid and Medicare.]

HAYDEN: Okay, and maybe I’m missing something here, but under Obamacare shouldn’t those people be able to get –through the Connect for Colorado –.  I mean, why are we paying –.

WOODS:  Right! [inaudible]

HAYDEN: Right! Why is it going up exponentially?  Why – what –.

BONNIWELL:  The government was supposed to  — the federal government was supposed to [inaudible]

HAYDEN: I thought the federal government was taking care of that!

WOODS:  Yeah, Medicaid started out where a family of four making $20,000 a year — there’s no way they could afford healthcare.  And that’s what Medicaid was for. It was for the truly needy.   But when we’ve raised the poverty level so that 137% of the federal poverty level, I think now families of four that make somewhere between $70,000 and $90,000 a year qualify for Medicaid.

HAYDEN: What?!


WOODS:  So you look around and you say, — exactly your question: “Why is anybody uninsured under Obamacare? And yet we’ve got this this driver of our state budget pushing our budget over a cliff, and it’s simply not sustainable.

HAYDEN: No.  That’s what it seems to me.  And it’s not – I mean, there’s really not much you guys can do about – I mean,

BONNIWELL:  Well, you can change the 137% back to 100%, I suppose.

HAYDEN: Right.  I mean, it can’t stay the way it is, right?

WOODS:  Right.

HAYDEN: You know, because I think what we saw– and maybe I’m wrong, but this whole – Connect for Colorado, when that major insurer just went, like, bankrupt and dropped all of those people, from what I gather only a fraction of those people actually signed up the new health care because it’s such a disaster. It’s it’s so expensive.  So, am I right, then?  Then all of those people – they’re going to go back in to the Medicaid, right?

WOODS:  Yes.  And –

HAYDEN: S0, it’s going to get even worse.

WOODS:  It is going to get even worse, and this rolling back 137% is exactly the kind of compromise and agreement that we would push to the government, and say, “You know what?  You want compromise, let’s talk about –.”   But you know, you’re sort of taking away their birthday. You’re taking away Santa Claus. I mean, I don’t know, this a very difficult thing to do and it has to be done with a lot of forethought and –

HAYDEN: But, I would say, that you want to be careful because you’re right – you don’t want to hurt families.  If a family is making $90,000 a year, there’s a good chance that they probably have some other way to get insurance rather than free from the rest of us.

WOODS:  You know, I agree with that.  And I think that even if it’s not $90,000.  You know, $50,000 a year, you can afford something on –.

BONNIWELL:  Well Obamacare gives you subsidies.

HAYDEN: Right!  Exactly!  I mean, you have the whole–.

WOODS:  At that level, right.  Obamacare would give you subsidies.

HAYDEN: And you can’t be – so, then the other thing is when the governor and all that group that’s going– that’s pushed by the Denver Post – going around trying to convince people to get rid of TABOR, which isn’t going very well, I don’t think.

BONNIWELL:  I haven’t heard much from them.  I want to ask Laura Woods about that.  I mean, you know, we heard Dan Ritchie, who is, you know The Denver Post’s favorite Republican because he is not really a Republican and therefore you can – he can front whatever left wing agenda they’ve got going, around on a listening tour, and they picled that out from my guess, probably […]–what’s her name?  The famous listening tour lady.  But once you go, you know, you already know what you want,  and you go on a listening tour and, “Hey!  They want exactly what we wanted!”  But what has happened to those guys?

WOODS:  Well, I actually don’t know what has happened to those guys, but I do think it has morphed into ideas like let’s rob the hospital provider fee –


WOODS:  –to further fund our programs because there aren’t general fund dollars to do that.


WOODS:  I think, you know, TABOR is the one piece of legislation that Colorado can lean on and depend on and stand behind as a bulwark to prevent us from becoming what California has become.


WOODS:  And the conservatives in our state get that.  And you know, I battle this every at every town hall  I go to, every meet-and-that greet I go to where I’ve got one of my counterparts from the other side of the aisle on the stage with me and we’re back and forth over, you know,  I’m standing to defend Tabor – they’re just saying we have just got to get rid of Tabor. So, it comes up.  We had Andy Kerr, the senator from Littleton –or Lakewood–try to sue the state over TABOR to say is unconstitutional.  That lawsuit was thrown out. So, –.

HAYDEN:  […] Chuck and I talk all the time about ways to generate more revenue, but in the meantime, we’re stuck with the budget that we have.  And–.

WOODS:  Well, that’s what businesses and families are faced with right now.

HAYDEN: Exactly!  And the government should do the same thing.

WOODS: Absolutely, we should.  And we see sure it at a horrible level in Washington.   It is Colorado’s balanced-budget amendment that keeps Colorado from, you know, creating money and doing things that Washington is doing.  But you’re absolutely right.  We should live within the means that we bring in, not go search for other pots of money that would be unconstitutional for us to switch to a new purpose, a new use.


WOODS:  Yeah, I’ve heard lots of talk about federal dollars we’re not signing up for. I’m really not in favor of us, you know, getting all these strings attached to federal money. But you’re right, and a short budget year gives us, as the legislature and as the state government, an opportunity to streamline government, to put money to the needs of the many as opposed to the wants of the few, to really narrow things down and tighten the ship wherever we can.  And you’re so right.  Reggie Meeks’ department absolutely needs to tighten the ship and not — at least not pay the penalties and fines that we’re having to pay.


[commercial break]

BONNIWELL:  Let’s talk about the Republicans. I mean, Republicans control the Senate and you know, all Republicans are conservatives. There is no Republican that I meet these days that doesn’t consider himself a conservative. I don’t care how liberal they are, and it is just amazing.  But if you look at the top officers – whether it is the Atty. Gen., if it’s the treasurer, whether it’s the Secretary of State, if you look at our Congressman – with the exception of Ken Buck – every one of them is the moderate. Every one of them is a moderate. I was thinking about those that endorsed Jeb Bush as the definition of a moderate. And, you know, and Mark McNulty was one of the backers of him. And of course Ryan Call was.  And you just go down the line.  And I mean you’ve got George Brauchler.  You’ve got yourself.  You’ve got Neville.  But I mean, how many real conservatives are there out  there in the–. Cadman himself is a moderate.  I think he’s done a great job as president in the Senate, but he’s a moderate.  How many real conservatives are there out there in the Republican Party?

WOODS:  Well, I would agree with you. There are variations of conservativism.  Um, a count – I don’t know.  I know who I look at as the stalwart conservatives in the legislature.  Justin Everett, in the House, um, Steve Humphrey, Lori Saine, Janek Joshi, Dan Nordberg.  There really are some rock solids over there.  In the Senate side, you already mentioned Tim Neville.  I think that, uh –

BONNIWELL:  Don’t get stuck!  You’ve got Tim Neville –.

WOODS: Vicki Marble, Kevin Lundberg – you know, there are some ultra-conservatives on the financials.

BONNIWELL:  Never call em – I call them stump conservatives.

HAYDEN:  […] What do you see maybe coming out of this legislature? […]

WOODS:  […]  I think we’re going to see some, um –.  Senator Marble has a great bill to eliminate testing in the ninth grade.


WOODS:  Yea! Right?  This is a great bill.  But you know, the governor, out of one side of his mouth in the State of the State talks about compromise and agreement, and working together and bipartisanship, and then he says, “Ninth grade testing stays.”  So, there you go!. [laughter] He killed her bill from the State of the State, and we haven’t even had its first hearing yet.  But the Nevilles are going to run a bill […] to terminate the use of FASTER dollars for transit.  It has been used for things like bike lanes, and their little bicycle program in downtown Denver […], or for gondola cars to the top of a ski hill.  And those kinds of “transit” issues have taken FASTER dollars, which statutorily are supposed be used [[…] for road safety – so, potholes and guardrails, and bridges – the things that could be a hazard to a driver.  But they’ve been robbed and used for these transit topics. So, they’re running a bill to just terminate using FASTER dollars for transit issues.  Let’s go back to what it was supposed to be used for and use it for that. So –.


WOODS: Yeah, so I’ve looked down the list of bills that they’re going to run, and the Andy Kerrs of the world want funding for full-day kindergarten.  That bill is going to die on the vine because there isn’t going to be money for a standup program to yet more of an entitlement out there.



WOODS:  Per pupil funding.  Follow the money.

BONNIWELL:  Well, have you decided who you like in the primaries – the Republican primaries for president?

WOODS:  For president.  Um, I have narrowed the field –.  You know, I attended the paint in Boulder, and it really helped me to see that anyone of these up on that stage would be better than the 3 running on the other side of the ticket.   […]  So, I at least wrapped my mind around the fact that, you know, — whichever Republican gets the nod, I will vote for that Republican.  But my favorites are Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

BONNIWELL:  Yeah! Those are mine to.  That’s who I like, too.