This is the day we make predictions about the year ahead, so I can summarize my prediction with the term – bedlam.
We get the term from an infamous psychiatric hospital in Britain called St. Mary of Bethlehem which was gradually slurred to “bedlam.” It was, according to culinarylore.com, “…a place of noisy, raving lunatics and wealthy people even took to visiting it to be entertained by their antics.”
That’s certainly one of the better definitions of the goings-on in our national and state capitols and given the pressures coming our way on the political front in 2020. It may even be a bit mild.
The presidential election is the main stressor and it will produce everything from long hypocritical and angry speeches in Congress and in our state Legislature to impromptu wrestling matches at family barbecues.
That’s because desperation and frustration are a pretty volatile mix. Republicans and many independents are frustrated that the president they elected has been harassed and stalked irrationally by progressives who are infuriated at his election and his refusal to be managed by them and the media.
Every time it’s tried, he responds by giving them a political atomic wedgy, which they find uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Desperation arises because it seems likely he’ll be reelected.
As usual, all this drifts down to the state Capitol in Denver where we haven’t had an original thought in a long time. It used to be that at least some of the legislation was specifically geared to Colorado problems and solutions, now, most of the proposals have to do with reflecting national talking points and positions that don’t take into account the uniqueness of state.
Adding insult to injury these talking points translate into policy that require massive new money, and after 2019’s failure of Proposition CC, that would’ve allowed state government to hold onto taxpayer dollars like a bulldog to a bone, the rage from Denver is hot enough to cook a meatless hamburger on the governor’s head.
Don’t worry, however, (or should I say worry a lot) because at last count there are reportedly more than 20 proposals considered for this legislative session to raise fees and put sneaky propositions to raise money on the next ballot.
One group proposing to remove the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights from the state constitution by just citing the section and number of where it appears in the Constitution, was told by our state Supreme Court they must include the term Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in the title of the proposition. The attempt to remove a vital piece of the state Constitution with a confusingly technical definition of what voters would be removing proves the thinking behind the plan.
The need for more money is because poor planning, wishful thinking and being mad at western Colorado sometimes isn’t enough.
Since it doesn’t look like there is no new money for awhile, I thought I’d help with suggestions for the new year.
First, get a handle on Medicaid funding, which is swallowing the budget.
In 2000, Healthcare Policy and Financing consumed 21.5% of the budget. In 2020 it will consume 34.6%. But it’s even worse than it sounds. That’s because the budget has grown with increased revenue, so while the state spent around $2 billion in 2000, it will spend about $10.5 billion in 2020.
So, the percentage of the budget that health care consumes has increased 13% but the amount of money spent on it has increased 500%. As our friends in the green movement like to say, it’s not sustainable.
Health care is complicated but it’s not complicated to see that this spending isn’t addressing the fundamentals of increased health costs, it’s just fueling the inefficiencies.
Next, higher education for the state has doubled from less than $2 billion to more than $4 billion since 2000 as colleges and universities pump out more graduates with staggering loan debt and degrees that won’t garner them a salary that will let them to move out of their parents’ house.
It’s no longer education, it’s a business that caters to a consumer who borrows money for its product without understanding what they’re getting. If students will pay for a degree in the study of non-binary characters in comic books, then by golly they’ll have one.
Here’s an idea how to fix that. Set a threshold for student loan default at educational institutions and for every percent above that number the institutions funding is decreased by the same amount.
That’ll get changes in student education.
Rick Wagner is a Grand Junction attorney. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly political talk show airs on KNZZ 1100 AM/92.7 FM on Saturdays at noon.