Gessler’s budget obstinacy

Say this for Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler: He isn’t one to ingratiate himself with the majority.

First, he announced his intention to work part-time with his old law firm because, he contended, his $68,500 annual state salary was insufficient. Now, he’s refusing to give up $4 million in surplus funds to assist lawmakers who are struggling with a $1 billion revenue shortfall.

Gessler ultimately backed away from his moonlighting plan after many panned it as a real or perceived conflict of interest.

We believe he should do the same regarding his reluctance to turn the money over to the state.

Senate Majority Leader John Morse wants to force Gessler’s hand through an amendment to legislation in the Senate. It would be a shame if it has to come to that point.

Gessler argues that, because the money comes from business filing fees, it should be spent on serving the business community. In a world where the state isn’t having to scrape for every dollar to balance the budget, his desire to keep the money in-house would be understandable. But that world doesn’t exist right now. The state can ill afford to have money sitting in a cash fund unspent.

Gessler’s predecessor, Democrat Bernie Buescher, understood that fact, which is why he originally proposed to turn $3.5 million of that money over to the state’s general fund.

In this economy, most everyone in the public and private sector is being asked to make do with less. Every state elected office and department must make painful cuts before the state’s fiscal year ends June 30. Money intended for higher education, tourism promotion, communities impacted by energy development and other areas is being rerouted to help balance the budget. If Republicans at one point considered denying funding for school breakfasts for poor children, you know times are desperate.

When it comes to state agencies making financial sacrifices, Gessler’s office should be no different.


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