Think Tank Presentations
INTERIM COMMISSION TO STUDY FISCAL STABILITY
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02:51 PM -- Think Tank Presentations
The commission reconvened.
02:52 PM -- Presentation by the Bell Policy Center
Mr. Wade Buchanan, representing the Bell Policy Center, distributed a presentation about Colorado's fiscal challenge (Attachment N), a report about Enterprise Zones (Attachment O), and an article by the center entitled "The Road to 2009" (Attachment P). He also explained that additional information is located at the Center's web page, located at http://www.thebell.org.
Mr. Buchanan stated that the objective is the long-term fiscal stability of the state. He provided background about his family's connection to Colorado, including his grandparents and parents. Mr. Buchanan also explained how his family responded to difficult economic times in Lamar, Colorado.
Mr. Buchanan provided additional history and explained how citizens in Lamar responded to economic calamity in the 1930s. He stated that Lamar created a community college during this time and other public services. Mr. Buchanan explained that Lamar Community College serves 14 school districts and contributes $17 million to the local economy.
Mr. Buchanan provided information about the big six areas of General Fund appropriations, including K-12 education, health care, higher education, corrections, etc. He also provided information about the four biggest public systems in Colorado. Mr. Buchanan explained the total state appropriations as a percentage of the state economy. Mr. Buchanan also provided information about how Colorado compares to other states in education, Medicaid, higher education, and highways. He also discussed how Colorado compares in revenues and expenditures as a percentage of total state income to other periods in its history.
Mr. Buchanan shared his views about the future of Colorado. As a state, he said that we should examine how we are preparing the future workforce and how the state ensures basic health services to low-income and disabled citizens. He also shared his thoughts about public safety and transportation.
Mr. Buchanan then discussed a study that was conducted called "Looking Forward: Colorado's Fiscal Prospects after Referendum C" by the Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, and the Colorado Children's Campaign. He discussed the study's findings, TABOR, and future levels of public services. Mr. Buchanan provided information about General Fund revenues from FY 1999-00 to FY 2011-12, which includes projected estimates.
Mr. Buchanan stated there are three fundamental solutions for the commission to consider, including: modernizing the revenue system; closing public systems, which could total over $1 billion; and muddling through the current fiscal situation. He said the ultimate question is whether current and future revenues allow the state to achieve its aspirations.
03:22 PM -- Presentation by the Independence Institute
Mr. Barry W. Poulson, representing the Independence Institute, began his presentation. He distributed a document that includes an outline and narrative (Attachment Q) and a handout about Constitutional and budget reforms (Attachment R). He stated that Colorado is not experiencing a fiscal crisis, and discussed California's history of tax and spending limits and the state's policy decisions in these policy areas. Mr. Poulson stated that the state's spending and expenditure limits are working in Colorado and the public supports keeping voter approval of tax increases.
He provided his views about TABOR, spending, and legislative and executive branch decisions. Mr. Poulson stated that Colorado should strengthen the expenditure and spending limits and repeal certain legislation. He also shared his thoughts about limiting fees. Mr. Poulson discussed requiring a supermajority vote of the legislature to propose new taxes, and shared his views about Amendment 23.
Mr. Poulson discussed a rainy day fund and the constitutional limit on annualization of expenditures. He stated that Colorado should limit its overall debt. He expressed his views about unfunded liabilities and his support for including these liabilities in a total debt measurement. He said fundamental reforms of the Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA) are needed. Mr. Poulson expressed his views about the General Assembly setting priorities, monitoring government programs, and conducting performance budgeting reviews.
Mr. Poulson discussed what he described as the fatal flaws of budgeting. He also discussed Medicaid and the need to review possible fraud in the program. Mr. Poulson also expressed his thoughts about tax competition, funding for public schools, school choice, and school performance. He concluded his comments by discussing education.
03:49 PM -- Questions from the Commission
Mr. Buchanan and Mr. Poulson jointly responded to questions from the commission members about fiscal policy and other issues. Mr. Poulson responded to questions about short-term solutions to the fiscal situation. He discussed Medicaid reform and focusing on the long-term.
Mr. Poulson responded to questions about whether the commission should exist, and he shared his thoughts about potential recommendations from the commission. He discussed formulas and population requirements in TABOR. Mr. Buchanan continued the discussion about the TABOR spending limits and how the limit keeps pace with economic growth. He also expressed his views about Amendment 23.
The panel discussed state government growth and how it compares to the growth of the economy. Mr. Poulson and Mr. Buchanan shared their views about these issues. Discussion and questions ensued about state revenue growth, tax reform, and revenue stability.
Commission members discussed the recent passage of a transparency act during the 2009 legislative session. Mr. Poulson responded to questions about transparency and the history of constitutional debt requirements in Colorado. Members of the commission discussed the history of debt provisions in Colorado's Constitution. The panel responded to additional questions about tax and spending limits before and after the passage of TABOR.
The commission and panel continued with a discussion about income tax policy. Mr. Poulson provided background about his involvement in previous tax policy debates. Mr. Buchanan shared his thoughts about General Fund revenue growth. Discussion continued about the growth of government, as well as the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) and the private economy. Mr. Buchanan stated that he supports the government growing at the rate of the economy.
Mr. Buchanan stated that government expenditures have multiplier effects that have economic impacts. Mr. Poulson shared his thoughts about taking money out of the private sector, rainy day funds, and tax reform. Discussion concluded.