Just kidding. I’ve been submitting an article every month for almost eight years. It’s always a struggle to anticipate what my legions of loyal readers want (or need) to know about state government or about the adventures of Bob and Joyce as they dive ever deeper into the political abyss. So I’m starting to write with an unusual lack of enthusiasm. Let’s see how it goes.
Today I'm fighting a cold garnered from who knows which handshake, avoiding national "news," reading about a hundred pages to prepare for Joint Budget hearings on education, and trying to finish in time to watch the Broncos and their new hope for a quarterback.
So what do potential readers really care about today? Forget impeachment. How about the 34 billion dollar state budget? After growing about 6% for the last several years, it's flattening to 3% this year. The big items that dominate all else are school finance at 8 billion, health care, and prisons. At the Joint Budget Committee (JBC), we’ve been working since early November to turn the Governor’s “suggestions” into a budget that we can recommend to the legislature during the session. Budget is policy, and I've been privileged to support my Senate and House caucuses by representing us on the budget committee for the last six years.
Or how about upcoming state elections. Vote for me!! But do start to pay attention. Plenty of good candidates from both sides will make a lot of promises and provide questionable information about their opposition.
We, legislators, are starting to focus on our bills for the session. Each legislator can propose five bills, and many bills will emerge from an almost record number of interim committees. I'm planning to offer a significant initiative to attack health care costs to follow up on my work on transparency and reinsurance. I'll also work through the JBC to provide a bill that will eliminate the waiting list for intellectually and developmentally disabled people waiting for Medicaid services.
I still co-chair the Education Leadership Council, the “vision” place for our education system from birth to retraining as an adult. We made great strides in the last two years, reaching out to the public and influencing legislation.
And of course, we’ll have some fights over “guns and butter," namely a proposal for state-run family leave, a public option for health insurance, more gun control, etc., etc. But hopefully, we'll find some new agreement on school funding and money for roads.
Well, that wasn't too bad, I hope. Just in time for the Broncos! Keep those e-mails coming. Remember, I don't work for the government. I work for the people. That would be YOU.