A grandstand for Gessler

The Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado Legislature — made up of Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate — each year must craft a budget for the state in which expenses don’t exceed revenue. It manages to do so, year in and year out, overcoming partisan differences while balancing the needs of a multitude of state agencies.

So, when all six members of the JBC unanimously demand an in-person explanation from an elected state official about cost overruns in his budget, you can bet the issue amounts to more than partisan efforts to discredit that elected official.

But that’s not the story Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler is spinning in the run-up to his command performance before the JBC on Feb. 17. Gessler, who is also a Republican candidate for governor, wants everyone to believe that Democrats are out to tarnish his reputation and hamstring his office.

Unfortunately for the JBC, Gessler loves an audience and he will undoubtedly use the grandstand the budget committee is providing him to loudly proclaim his victimhood.

But the JBC holds the higher moral ground in this dispute. Gessler got himself into this predicament by sharply cutting business fees for his cash-funded office, when his office had a large surplus several years ago, refusing to put a portion of the surplus into the state general fund as lawmakers demanded.

Next Gessler claimed the increased cost to his office of an election-reform bill passed by the Legislature last year created cost overruns in his office. Now he wants the Legislature to bail him out by using general fund money to help cover his budget deficit.

When all the grandstanding is done, we hope the JBC refuses to accede to Gessler’s demands. His irresponsibility should not be rewarded with additional state money taken from other departments.


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Kudos to the Sentinel for editorially opining – “A grandstand for Gessler – on Charles Ashby’s timely report: “Panel, Gessler face showdown over budget”, which afforded added insight into Republican would-be governor Gessler’s hypocritically self-serving version of responsible governance.  Apparently, Republicans can’t be trusted with large sums of money.

As Ashby reported in January, Gessler turned a $7 million budget surplus into a shortfall by unilaterally cutting business taxes – defying the legislature’s request.

By June 2012, Gessler had accrued an unlawful $7 million surplus in his budget.  Rather than turn that surplus back to the General Fund (where it might have benefited public education), Gessler arbitrarily cut business registration fees – most significantly, from $125 to $1—costing his budget $1 million per month into 2013 and resulting now in a $3.3 million shortfall.  Now, Gessler disingenuously blames the unanticipated expenses associated with House Bill 1303 – The Voter Access & Modernized Elections Act (sponsored by Democrats and supported by the Colorado County Clerks Association).

In 2001 and 2002, Republican President George Bush abandoned Democratic President Bill Clinton’s balanced budgets and national-debt-reducing budgetary surplus to enact two exorbitant tax cuts – the latter, after starting unfunded wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – which disproportionately benefited the already wealthiest taxpayers.

After thereby squandering the federal government’s revenues, in 2009 Bush bequeathed to Democratic President Obama the largest annual deficits and national debt in history.  In 2011, Republicans threatened to welch on the nation’s “full faith and credit” – causing the largest one-day increase in our national debt in history.  Now, in 2014, they are coyly threatening to do that again.

In light of New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie’s burgeoning “Bridge-gate” and Sandy relief money scandals, Sentinel readers should reasonably question what kind of Colorado governor Gessler and/or other ethically-challenged Republicans would be.

Are there any fiscally responsible “conservatives” left?

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