Obstructionist Republican lawmakers playing partisan brinkmanship at the state Capitol this week need to get over themselves and get the public’s work done.
Gov. John Hickenlooper called the Legislature back for an extraordinary session Monday to fix an embarrassing and critical mistake written inadvertently into a state spending bill earlier this year.
Some Republicans are balking at the special session, now underway, using it as either a partisan club to swing at Hickenlooper or a tiresome soap-box for anti-taxers who threaten the safety and welfare of all Coloradans.
The mistake was written into Senate Bill 267, which was a surprising feat of bi-partisanship during a session that saw little of it when it really mattered. The spending bill boosted efforts to fix ailing Colorado roads and pump up critical state services hurt by the Great Recession and a dangerous GOP obsession with the so-called TABOR amendment.
The problem is that a long list of special districts are now failing to get promised and budgeted revenues, which all that glorious bi-partisanship wrote into SB 267 last spring. It means that RTD, already punishing communities like Aurora because of budget shortfalls, is getting shorted about a half-million bucks a month. Likewise, the metro-area’s Science and Cultural Arts Facilities District, which funds everything from the Aurora Fox Arts Center to the Denver Zoo is also getting shorted hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the mistake.
In all, this mistake, which truly warrants wrath for state staffers who overlooked it, will short Colorado agencies and programs $4.5 million by the time state lawmakers can fix it during next January’s regular session.
Right or wrong, Hickenlooper, the only person in the state allowed to call special sessions, saw the mistake as critical to the governments unintentionally being shorted.
We agree. Some Republicans didn’t. Too bad.
Arguing about the $25,000 cost of the special session was valid right up until the moment Hickenlooper invoked it on Monday. Lawmakers are there now, and fixing the mistake is a no-brainer.
For those state lawmakers who just can’t get over themselves and the cost to taxpayers to fix this mistake, we ask them to feel free to forgo their per-diem legislative payment, which makes up the bulk of the $25,000 cost.
Instead, three Republican state senators on a committee that must approve the fix voted against it without comment in a puerile act of irresponsibility. Republicans have a one-seat majority in the state Senate. Democrats run the House. The GOP has bludgeoned Colorado residents with their one-seat obstructionism for a few years now.
But this stunt has gone too far.
Republicans need to complete the fix. They need to make good on their agreed-upon commitments. They must stop wielding political vindictiveness against a term-limited governor when it causes state residents real harm, just like it is right now.
Time is short, so it’s time right now to grow up, get it done, and keep the junior-high hijinks to themselves.