Watching television reruns often seems like a waste of time. Still, reruns can serve a purpose if you missed the show the first time, or if you enjoyed it enough, youll watch it again.
I bring this up because Id like to see some of the bills that were killed last year in the state Legislature reappear for deeper consideration and possible passage next time.
Ive heard it said that legislators dont even try to fix the problems we all know exist in state government, such as inefficiencies, redundancies and waste. Not true.
Can we do better in state government? No doubt. How do we go about it? This is a more challenging question to answer, but if we dont have the serious conversations in the first place, were not likely to arrive at the answers.
The bills I mention below were voted down too early in the process to get a fair hearing. They are nuts-and-bolts approaches to state government problems. Do we need to reconsider them? In my view, yes.
Colorados latest economic and revenue forecast came out in mid-September. Visit www.colorado.gov/lcs, click on the Economics button and follow the Forecasts links to examine the report. According to the chief economist, The Colorado economy has begun to show solid signs of a slow recovery.
Thats the good news, although many of us dont see that on the ground yet. The bad news is that the first item on the agenda for the next legislative session must be to cut this years budget because its out of balance and were headed into an even bigger shortfall in the 2011-12 budget year.
So, this less-than-cheery economic news might be the sharp poke needed to revisit some of those better government bills that got killed so quickly last year. As in peoples homes, hard times cause us to evaluate what is really essential in our budgets. Here are a few of the bills, brought by legislators other than me, that Id like to see come back for reconsideration:
b Priority-based Budgeting Last year, this was HB10-1126, and it would have implemented a priority-based budgeting process. It laid out a step-by-step approach for each department of state government to identify and justify the programs within it to make sure those programs concretely tie to the departments core mission. A solid idea like scraping barnacles off of a ship to make sure it navigates the waters as intended.
The bill had a short life when it immediately was sent to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, aka the Kill Committee. The majority party in control of the legislative chamber, either the House or Senate, decides where a bill goes once introduced. Legislators know youre likely to see your bill die, often on a party-line vote, if the first committee your bill is assigned to is this one.
b Creation of the Colorado economic stability fund HB10-1177 was another stab at creating a state rainy day fund. It would have created a forced savings account for state government to be used only in times of deep economic challenges. Some legislators said they liked the idea, but they didnt think now was the time to set aside funds for this.
As we all know from our own households, its always hard to save and its a practiced discipline. Voters are asking for that fiscal discipline, and I believe this would be a first step in restoring trust that is sorely lacking.
b Finally, while there are others I could highlight, Ill mention SB10-164. This bill created a bipartisan task force mainly from the private sector to review state programs to identify redundancies, abuse, fraud and cost savings. This group would function like an internal audit team that businesses often apply to themselves to do their work more effectively and efficiently. This bill also died in the first committee.
Maybe, for these bills and others like them, the second time might be the charm.
Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, represents the 59th District in the state House of Representatives. Reach her by phone at the Capitol, (303) 866-2914; fax, (303) 866-2218; home phone, 259-1594 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.