13 April 2009

Denver Post Against Pinnacol Plan

I wish I'd read this Denver Post editorial before writing my last post. The whole brewing partisan angle is pretty well expressed in the Post's opening lines:

Senate Democrats, for the second consecutive year, have passed a multibillion-dollar state budget that could well hinge on a positive court ruling.

We know it's extremely difficult to carve $700 million from a budget that contains little discretionary spending, but that's a terribly irresponsible way to govern.

The Senate late Thursday night passed a $17.9 billion budget that requires a $500 million raid on a quasi-public agency in order to avoid devastating cuts to higher education.

The piece goes on to paint the deal in a negative light. While I won't argue with the editors' negative opinion about the proposed legislation--I am not convinced of the overall value of seizing Pinnacol's assets to slap a band-aid on Colorado's higher-education woes for just a single year--I do feel strongly that the partisan narrative bears pointing out.

The Post editorial leaves out the fact that SB 273, one of two Pinnacol-related bills put forth by lawmakers, is sponsored by a pair of state Republicans, Sen. Al White of Hayden and Rep. Don Marostica of Loveland. Given that fact it seems a bit remarkable for the paper to frontload the conversation with "Senate Democrats . . . ."

Granted, Democrats make the majority in the Colorado senate, and Democrats may feel more compelled than many of their Republican counterparts to take any measure necessary to fund higher ed this year, but the Post seems to willfully ignore crucial information to understanding the issue. Democrats aren't simply steamrolling this through the assembly; Republicans are actively fighting amongst themselves over basic different interpretations of the law and how to solve sticky budgeting problems.

The paper's readers deserve at least a hint of the complex nature of the politics behind the proposed legislation. Even the Post editorial board would likely agree.