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January 26, 2005

The Budget Battles

The legislative Democrats are signaling an increasing willingness to go it alone on TABOR. Their goal is to take the high-water mark of state spending, as use that as the baseline for future spending caps. The Republicans are, I fear, on the verge of making the Bush I mistake - being accused of intransigence while letting the other side roll up the table.

Last year, the Democrats opposed any effort to link Amendment 23 with TABOR, dooming Republican efforts to deal with both in resolving the budget crisis. The Democrats then ran a campaign accusing the Republicans of ignoring the problem.

After winning control of the legislature, the Democrats again vowed to be bipartisan, and again have stiffed any effort to weaken their sop to their parent company. And again, they are arguing that the Republicans simply want to deny them a legislative victory that would help them in 2006. As a result, the Republicans can easily end up looking obstructionist for merely holding the Democrats to their word.

At the same time, Sue Windels is proposing bill after bill that would weaken school accountability, underming charter schools, and eliminate testing as a metric for school performance. The Republicans, as part of their strategy to get Amendment 23 back on the table, need to link these sets of actions - it's a return to entitlement without accountability.

The problem with threatening a separate ballot measure is the Constitution's requirement that any referendum only address a single issue - a requirement that the State Supreme Court has rigorously enforced when it comes to conservative propositions. Thus, if the Democrats only want to deal with TABOR in their way, they can pass that through the legislature on a majority vote and send it to the voters this fall. Any Republican attempt to link the two would need to be on separate ballot measures, both needing signatures to get to a vote.

Posted by joshuasharf at January 26, 2005 09:32 AM | TrackBack

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