LP Responds to Owens' State of State Address
LIBERTARIAN PARTY of Colorado
THE STATE OF THE STATE OF THE STATE
The following is a Libertarian analysis of Governor Owens' State of the State Address.
WELCOME AND BACK-PATTING
ANALYSIS: We'll skip comment on all this in the beginning except to say, hold your watch up, because the manure just got very deep very fast. Oh, and by the way, we've taken the liberty of correcting Owens' grammar and spelling mistakes. It's just like a Bush speech, so it must be a Texas politician thing.
HIGHLIGHT: "We must treat Colorado's budget the way a Colorado family deals with its household budget. Families do this by setting priorities, [by postponing] extras until times get better."
ANALYSIS: It is no coincidence that the Libertarian candidate for State Senate 11, Jeff McQueen, said the exact thing verbatim about treating the budget back in the October 2002 State Senate 11 debates. It is also no coincidence that Owens' handpicked flunkies for Ed Jones were in the audience at the time, taking notes. It is also no coincidence that Senate 11 is the single legislative seat that Libertarians made the difference in to give the Senate to the Republicans, for better or for worse, instead of the Democrats. So we have Owens paying lip service to the Libertarian budget message. As usual, the ideologically bankrupt Republicans steal ideas from Libertarians.
BALANCE THE BUDGET
HIGHLIGHTS: "Last year, when Colorado's revenues were down 13 percent, I received a budget that boosted spending by 7 percent." "We are required by our Constitution to balance the budget."
ANALYSIS: Notable is that the Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass a spending bill IN A RECESSION that increased the weight of government on the people's backs by 7%, while that same government had 13% less to spend! Doing the math, that means that the spending increase combined with the revenue drop required a 21% decrease in government size and spending just to get to where we were two years ago! That doesn't include any proposed increase this year, either! This is hardly responsible leadership, but more like an addict that cannot stop consuming more and more of their drug of choice! In this case, the drugs are power and money. Yes, the state government will be on a forced diet, but it also needs to go into forced rehab.
HIGHLIGHTS: "So long as I am Governor, we will not raise taxes." "I believe that far from being a straightjacket for Colorado, TABOR is an economic bulletproof vest. While other states spent their way through the 1990s, and are now raising taxes to pay for their spending, Colorado was better prepared for the revenue downturn that we face."
ANALYSIS: Governor Owens just told us to read his lips, sort of. When Bush Sr. told us to read his lips, he said there would be no new taxes, but then raised the old ones. Owens is doing the opposite: he says there will not be a raise in the old taxes, but leaves the possibility of new taxes out there. People, to quote Bush Sr. again, "Watch your wallet." On the bright side, Owens appears to get it about TABOR. We wish everyone else would.
JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
HIGHLIGHTS: "Colorado received $142 million from the federal government last spring in unemployment insurance funding." "Let's invest an additional $10 million in tourismÉ" "Let's invest $7 million in economic development grants to bring companies to Colorado or help existing employers grow and create new jobs." "Let's invest the remaining $2 million in increasing our promotion of Colorado agricultural products." "Colorado, like every state, has reams of rules and regulations. Many are necessary to protect our fellow citizens. Others, I am convinced, can tie the hands of entrepreneurs with needless red tape and stifle job creation. It's time to put these rules and regulations under a microscope."
ANALYSIS: The legislature rightly killed this proposal. The only way to spur growth is to give the consumer more spending power by putting more money back into their wallets and away from government coffers. Consumers then spend more; demand rises; businesses increase production to meet demand; jobs are created to meet the demand and put money into the consumer wallets; and the cycle continues. Owens' plan is a typical Republican pro-business handout. But it is the consumers that drive the economy. Let's get people working through the free market, not government marketing. That free market means repealing regulations that hurt small businesses, on that point Owens actually got it right.
HIGHLIGHTS: "We will continue on this path to progress because Colorado's children deserve no less." "Let's create, this year, the College Opportunity Fund. A student may choose a community college, a state college or one of our public universities. But this puts the choice and the opportunity in their hands., [with no] strings attached. It tells them that there is up to $18,000 waiting for them to claim to pursue a brighter future in higher education."
ANALYSIS: This means more CSAP and more teaching to the test instead of teaching to the skills. It also means that Owens is calling for socialized higher education: $18,000 per student to attend a state-run school. If they decide to go to a private school like Regis or DU or CC they get nothing. Owens is dangling an $18,000 carrot in front of people to stay immersed in the floundering public education system. This is yet another example of why government and education just don't mix. And besides, according to the 2003 enrollment rates, it would cost the state up to $900 million for students at CU and CSU alone, not including the rest of the state higher education system. That's the current budget deficit (that MUST be cut) plus the federal DUI dollars combined!
HIGHLIGHT: "We must examine innovative ways to save more of Colorado's water. If we want to protect Colorado's entitled water from California's lawns, we must identify a method to store our share of the Colorado River's water."
ANALYSIS: Sure, blame California, and call on more legislation to further entangle the water regulatory mess. This is not the solution. There are lots of ways to conserve water, but they need to be promoted. Using native plants in landscaping and agriculture will cut that water use by 40% or more. Requiring development, both on the farm and in the city, to be able to meet current water demands will conserve. Revoking the "use-it-or-lose-it" rules will go far in reducing agricultural water waste. Banning bluegrass in favor of ryegrass and fescue will cut lawn watering by over 50%. Removing urban subsidies on water bills will raise bills and cut usage. Renegotiating intrastate water compacts will help as well. Allowing first-user recycling of gray water will cut wasted water by 60%. Sure, the reservoirs need help. But responsible urban use, while only 15% of the water use in the state, will go far, and responsible rural use, including drought-hardy heirloom crops and natural fertilizers and feed will do so much more.
HIGHLIGHTS: "We need to trust Coloradans. Let's give them the choices and empower them to purchase a lower-cost, basic health plan that best suits their needs, and not what the government says they need; Remove government mandates and red tape that unnecessarily drive health insurance costs to an unaffordable level; Provide a truly independent analysis of the effect that any new benefit mandate would have before we impose them on health care consumers; "Allow small businesses to band together so they can leverage their purchasing power, ease their administrative burden and have more choice." "Encourage more competition and choice by making it easier for insurance companies to return to Colorado's reformed insurance market."
ANALYSIS: I'll take "DUH" for $200, Alex. This is the Libertarian health care message, bar none, but one thing needs to be asked: How can Coloradoans lure doctors to the rural areas?
HIGHLIGHTS: "Colorado mandates personal injury protection, which is really health insurance for those involved in auto accidents. This mandated coverage is simply too broad, going well beyond those covered by even the most generous health insurance policy."
ANALYSIS: Remove the PIP and auto injury lawsuits will skyrocket. Simply make auto insurance optional, or at-fault insurers pay, or at-fault parties pay if they don't have insurance.
"FOR THE CHILDREN (METH AND PORN)"
HIGHLIGHTS: "I ask for your support for new legislation to expand the definition of child abuse under criminal and civil law to include manufacturing meth in the presence of a child." "I ask you to eliminate the loophole that requires trafficking in child pornography to have a commercial purpose."
ANALYSIS: Liberal "for the children" fluff with needless redundant substance. Drug production with a child present is already considered child abuse by DHS, and the child porn trafficking issue is already covered by federal laws.
HIGHLIGHT: "This year is the year that, together, we must create a uniform shall-issue "right to carry" standard this session."
ANALYSIS: He is finally waffling back from Amendment 22 and Columbine stances. What took him so long? It is highly unlikely that Coloradoans will see Vermont-style carry anytime soon, simply because both the Legislature and the Governor lack the political guts to do it.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Corrections takes up about 8 percent of our budget." "We will work with you to build new prisons to house criminals."
ANALYSIS: $850 million in the hole and Owens wants to do $90 million in COPS to get around TABOR to build another prison. Meanwhile the DOC staffing is only 85% of full, so the DOC employees are put into a dangerous situation. Owens needs to properly staff the current prisons first and restore the DOC benefits to what they were 2 years ago instead of backdooring more debt to build more prisons.
HIGHLIGHTS: "Thank you."
ANALYSIS: Finally this waste of air is done!
THE LIBERTARIAN CONCLUSION: Owens still pays lip service to bad ideas, more government solutions to government problems, and in general paving the way to run for some higher office in 2004 or 2006. May we hope he never gets that far, for the sake of the nation.
The editor replies: I do not agree with everything written in this release, and in general no article published by the Colorado Freedom Report necessarily reflects the views of parties other than the author. I find it implausible that Owens stole a line from McQueen; that kind of language has been around for years. I also find it implausible that McQueen threw the race to the Democrat. Seebeck's number-crunching is inaccurate concerning the budget. The proposal to ban bluegrass is hardly libertarian. I wish the release had detailed alternatives to prison expansion. I find the use of sarcasm in the release off-putting. In general, I agree with many of the points outlined by the release, and I applaud the LP for issuing a response to Owens' speech. -- Ari Armstrong