Senator Andy Kerr shared the following statement on Facebook and we want to ensure you read it thoroughly. We appreciate that he continues to remember our children and it not willing to settle for less than the free and appropriate public education all Colorado students deserve.
“What do you think? Schools are still over $800 million in the hole. We don’t have nearly enough oil & gas inspectors. Hospitals cut by 100’s of millions of $$s. Read my 3rd reading speech below to find out why I voted no on this budget.”
“Thank you, Mr. President.
It has been said that a budget is a moral document, but that is not what we bring before the people of Colorado today. This is not a statement of our principles. This is an admission of failure. Not as individuals, but as an institution.
We were sent here to make tough decisions and reach wise compromises. I see clever accounting tricks, but I do not see the wisdom that I know we are capable of.
Our children deserve world-class educations, but rather than fulfill our promise to them, we invent ways to give less than the Constitution requires. We sigh out that proper funding is impossible and resign ourselves to finding compromises between what we cannot do, and what we should not do. We accept our poverty and mortgage our future.
The accounting trick called “the negative factor” allows us to cheat our schools. It may be legal, we may think it necessary, but it is dishonest. It has cost schools in Jeffco $558 million since 2009. It has cost schools in Adams County $604 million. Statewide it has stolen $5.8 billion in lost revenue, not from me and you, but from our kids. Budgetary sleight of hand reflects nobody’s values. And yet, this budget continues to dig that hole deeper.
And why do we feel it is necessary? Because even in times of abundance we find excuses to starve. Steady and reasonable fiscal restraint is indeed the will of Colorado voters. They do not wish us to be wasteful or careless with their money. We all accept that. We all embrace that. But I have spoken with thousands and thousands of voters, and I have never heard one say that the convoluted interaction of Gallagher and TABOR and the Hospital Provider fee had anything to do with their will.
Reasonable efforts to compromise were offered last night: funding full-day kindergarten, supporting the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, expanding contraception coverage, and many, many more. Almost all were rejected on mostly partisan lines.
The hard working families of Colorado might not care a lot about the nuances of the state constitution, but they know that when we close rural hospitals, people die. Real people are suffering, and part of that is in their bodies, and part of that is in our laws. If we refuse to address access to care and educational opportunities across all of Colorado, then we become as much a threat to our citizen’s health as any disease.
This budget could speak to the challenges that face Colorado. Instead, it needlessly ties its own hands and then complains that good roads, hospitals, and schools are something for other states’ children, but not our own. By investing now, when our economy is strong and growing, we can build the infrastructure needed to extend our growth well into the future.
We can do better than this bill. I respect the hard work and bipartisan effort that brought us this far. Let’s keep at it and do this right. Until then, I urge a no vote on SB17-254.”