Specifics needed on budget plans

When Scott McInnis and other Republican leaders officially unveiled their Platform for Prosperity Monday, McInnis took direct aim at one of Gov. Bill Ritter’s budget-cutting measures that affects this community: the closing of the nursing facility at the Grand Junction Regional Center.

“This guy doesn’t get priorities,” McInnis said, according to The Denver Post.

One can certainly make a reasoned argument that the nursing facility at the Regional Center should have been lower on the governor’s budget-cutting priority list. But that raises inevitable questions: What should have been cut instead? And where would McInnis cut now to meet the state’s requirement for a balanced budget when revenue is declining?

The former congressman from Grand Junction has said he wants to keep state taxes low, improve Colorado’s business atmosphere, examine some of the financial instruments the state uses to see if potential savings can be found and conduct a program-by-program assessment of state services to eliminate waste. But there have been few specific proposals for cuts to date.

This isn’t just a Republican issue. The reason Ritter was placed in the position of having to make cuts in the current state budget is that the Democratically controlled state Legislature declined to make adequate budget cuts on its own. Instead, it relied on overly optimistic revenue projections and the hope the economy would turn around sooner than it has.

In the Platform for Prosperity, Republicans make some specific budget pledges — such as restoring the 6 percent cap on annual increases in state spending and supporting the creation of a rainy day fund to reduce the impact of future budget crises.

The platform also pledges to roll back the highly unpopular increase in vehicle registration fees approved by the Legislature this year with Gov. Ritter’s backing. But the platform also says Republicans will make investing in roads and bridges a top priority.

Voters deserve to know how McInnis and the Republicans plan to make road and bridge investments a priority if they are going to reduce a major source of highway funding. They also have a right to know, for instance, how Ritter plans to meet his pledge to keep higher education affordable, even as he has cut hundreds of millions for the state’s colleges and universities and some in his party are suggesting that we close some small colleges.

There is still nearly a year to go until the 2010 election. In the months to come there will be many opportunities for the candidates to offer more details on their proposals. We urge them to do so as soon as possible. Specifics, not platitudes, are needed for voters trying to thoughtfully decide which candidates to support.


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