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.