Colorado state government spending has continued to grow exponentially during this legislative session. All Colorado citizens and especially Colorado tax payers should be greatly concerned. The fiscal year 2022-2023 budget has hit a record high $36 billion, that is a $4 billion increase in just one fiscal year. Yes for you mathematicians, this is a >10% increase.
Amazingly, I have watched the Colorado state budget go up like a rocket ship for a total amount of near 10 billion dollars in the last three years that I have served in the house chamber. Again mathematicians, this is nearly 30% increase over the last 4 years.
Still not worried about the state of fiscal affairs for all you Colorado taxpayers under Polis? Well, this rural legislator can see that this will not work for long in a difficult economic future where recession patiently waits. Sustaining this level of funding for so many programs and grants will be near impossible when federal funds dry up. We call this “the cliff effect” here at the state Capitol. It comes as all these programs fall off the cliff when ARPA relief funds are long in our rear view mirror. The fiscal whiplash that will occur when Colorado reaches this cliff will be painful. Large lay- offs, furloughs, and painful state department cuts will be waiting for future fiscal analysis’s and legislators down the road.
The Governor’s office has geared up every executive department to leverage ARPA funds and boost each state department’s FTE (Full Time Employees). Governor Polis and the Democrat majority have had a hay day growing government and adding FTE. I have continued to ask the Democrat Majority leadership if this fiscal growth is sustainable but they do not seem to care about my concerns or answer this hard question. Like teenagers with Dad or Mom’s credit card, the Governor and the De- mocrats here at the Capitol go hard and fast to spend up the credit card limit on the ARPA dollars lobbied for by Polis and allocated to the Colorado Treasury. Democrats in control of all the levers of power, who control the state treasury and check book, see the short term goal of trapping ARPA funds and appropriating them across all state departments as the end game with reckless abandon.
But wait Colorado, there is more. Every special interest Non Profit Organization (501-c-3) are also on the hunt for trapping their fair share of ARPA dollars. Like the homeless at the food kitchen, they lobby for the millions of dollars of grant offerings that will cover their high dollar staff and payrolls and their special interest programs.
Two state fiscal priorities that have been grossly ignored this session are the Public Employee Retirement Account (PERA) and the Unemployment Tax Fund (UTF). I expressed my desire to prioritize, replenish and fully maintain the PERA fund. Additionally, the UTF also needs to be replenished so small businesses do not bear the burden of increased UTF premiums to maintain its solvency. Fiscal reports during the COVID pandemic from the Department of Labor stated that up to 70 million dollars worth of fraud occurred due to lack of verification and unsound fiscal disbursement of these benefits.
As I sit here in the Republican minority in the House Chamber, it is difficult to stop the Democrat follies. I am determined to continue to fight like a wolverine for fiscal and social responsibility in the next General Assembly. This election cycle, now more than ever, rural Colorado needs to send a fiscal and social conservative warrior with experience back to Denver. Winning the majority in the Senate and House chambers will begin the movement to correct the egregious mistakes made by the Democrat Majority and the Democrat Governor over these last 4 years.
Representative Richard Holtorf is a Republican state legislator represent- ing House District 64 and a candidate for the newly drawn House District 63 in Northeastern Colorado. For more information go to; FB: HoltorfforColorado.