Continued Discussion from AM Session
INTERIM COMMISSION TO STUDY FISCAL STABILITY
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01:30 PM -- Continued Discussion from AM Session: What are the Common Themes?
Sen Heath called the commission back to order. The commission discussed the common themes from the morning session. Carole Boigon mentioned representative government. Sean Conway mentioned rainy day funds. Donna Lynne mentioned long term financial planning. Representative Court mentioned the need to avoid strict formulas. Finally, Renny Fagan mentioned public/private partnerships, leveraging private funding, and using outcome based measurements.
Amy Oliver Cooke commented that if there is consensus, the initiative process may need to be addressed first, before getting to the specifics of formulas.
Representative Gerou questioned whether there was a consensus concerning formulas and possibly also concerning representative government.
Jonathan Coors clarified that we have not properly defined these terms and the commission may be getting ahead of itself.
Donna Lynne remarked that there is a lack of citizen information and an inability on the part of the public to understand or know some of these budget issues.
Senator Brophy commented that we need to recognize that we have a volatile revenue stream that swings wildly based on the economic fortunes of the state.
Senator Heath and Sean Conway engaged in a brief conversation about Higher Education. Mr. Conway reiterated his idea that the boards of the research institutions could request flexibility for innovative approaches to funding and budgeting in light of reduced support from the General Assembly.
Senator Morse remarked that there is consensus that there is a problem to solve. We have heard from some members of the public that there is no problem; however, this commission has concluded that a problem does exist and requires solutions. The exact nature of the problem is still yet to be discussed by this group.
Mr. Conway and Ms. Boigon reminded the commission that both the local and state governments must share a role in any long term fiscal solutions.
Representative Gerou and Sen Morse discussed the efficacy of defining the role of government.
Donna Lynne remarked that administrative efforts and bureaucracy are important. We must not ignore the importance of having planners (administrators) that are able to allow government to act like a business, conduct business analysis and cost benefit studies, and invest in strategies that give us the best return.
Mr Fagan remarked that good administration happens currently within government but often collides against formulas and strict spending mandates. Ms. Lynne spoke to isolating money for a reserve fund where departments might have to justify access to that reserve. Senator Morse reminded the commission that the values to consider in public policy are different than the values used in business, such as efficiency. Such a value may be elevated for private enterprises and profit endeavors but may not be the primary criteria for evaluating public efforts.
14 themes were identified by the commission for continued discussion:
- Representative Government
- Rainy Day Fund
- Long Term Financial Planning
- Constitutional and Statutory Formulas
- Public/Private Partnerships
- Outcome-based Measurement
- Lack of Citizen Information
- Volatile Revenue Stream
- Higher Education Funding
- Agreement: There is a Problem to Solve
- Role of State and Local Governments is Changing
- The Proper Role of Government
- Tax Study
- Strategic Investing
Senator Heath asked if the group could agree that these are core concepts and themes the commission should address. The commission discussed the concepts of representative government, and the right of the citizens to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Representative Court remarked that there is a balancing act between the requirements of representative government and the efforts to change public policy through direct democracy. The question was posed: "Can representatives in the legislature do the job they are elected to do, in balance with preserving the public's right to change policy through the initiative process"?
Ms. Boigon asked Mr. Fagan how the two could be balanced. Mr. Fagan reiterated that both can exist. We can have representative democracy and preserve the direct say of the people. We can have a small, restricted government without the tight adherence to formulas, even though these formulas were placed in the constitution via the initiative process. Mr. Fagan continued that the process for accountability is to make the seats for representation as competitive as possible, so that the public will feel that the electoral process serves the same accountability and public policy purposes as the direct initiative process.
Mr. Conway felt that the legislature could deal with some of these issues with statutes. If the legislators want to reassert themselves with regard to representative government, the General Assembly could address some of these issues with the assistance of staff and the attorney general's office through special legislation. The General Assembly could take a leadership role and examine the options available. He concluded that it is unlikely that the voters would voluntarily rescind TABOR.
Senator Heath summarized the list of common themes and the commission discussed the way topics are worded as a possible way of achieving consensus and understanding where there is dissent.
03:00 PM BREAK
03:16 PM RECONVENE