Colorado money dollars piggy bank revenue

Twenty Years Ago This Week: Newly appointed chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, Rep. Brad Young, R-Lamar, spoke to The Colorado Statesman regarding the need to keep one eye on the economy and the other on state spending.

“No doubt about it, we face a tremendous challenge regarding the state’s budget for the coming year,” Young said.

Not two months had passed since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and Colorado was facing continual decline in revenues due to a slowing economy. Young said that the last time something similar had occurred was in 1991, when actual state revenues came in lower than projections.

Young pointed out that because the state’s constitution required the budget to be balanced every year, “This means that, just like every family, we need to carefully review our priorities and be prudent about where we spend the money. Above all, we must not forget that it is the hardworking taxpayers of this state who really pay the bills.”

A sluggish economy wasn’t the only issue plaguing Young who cited a poll that had been conducted for the Colorado Commission on Taxation by Floyd Ciruli of Ciruli & Associates. The poll found that 46% of those individuals surveyed believed that the state government wasted at least 30% of the taxes it collected.

“We must do a better job of earning the public trust,” Young said. “We need to make state government more user friendly and do a better job of enabling state residents to participate in the decision making process if they choose to do so.”

Gov. Bill Owens told the Joint Budget Committee that, “The Colorado economy is softening, and while I haven’t seem the October sales tax figures, I anticipate that they will show the economic weakness spurred by the events of Sept. 11.”

For his part, Owens told the JBC that he had deferred several capital constitution projects and ordered a 1% cut in executive expenditures.

Owens said that despite the softening of revenue growth, his proposed budget would continue to prioritize funding for important programs including K-12 education, tuition assistance for Colorado National Guard members, health care programs and tourism.

Owens added in his presentation to JBC that he planned to ask the legislature to add a $500,000 supplemental to the year’s budget to increase the state’s tourism promotion programs.

Calling tourism a vital Colorado industry, Owens said that the monies would help boost the state’s economy even in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

Fifteen Years Ago: Rev. Ted Haggard, senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, spoke out publicly against a Colorado Christian Coalition mailing on behalf of Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, that accused Colorado Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera of pushing a radical gay rights agenda.

The mailing so incensed U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley that he refused to endorse Lamborn for the 5th Congressional District because, “he runs a sleazy, dishonest campaign.”

Haggard’s public statement came just days before he was forced to temporarily step down from his position, this following accusations that he had a three-year relationship with a man named Mike Jones, a male escort and massage therapist in Denver.

Jones said that he had emails and phone messages that were “damning.”

“I didn’t do this to hurt him, I did it because of the hypocrisy,” Jones said, citing Haggard’s opposition to civil unions and his endorsement of a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.”

Haggard, whose church had hosted a 5th Congressional District candidate forum during the primary, flatly denied any relationship, stating, “I’ve never even met Mike Jones, I’m happily married and faithful to my wife.” 

The Republican Party refused to comment and claimed no relationship between their candidates and voter courtship of New Life Church.  

Rachael Wright is the author of the Captain Savva Mystery series, with degrees in Political Science and History from Colorado Mesa University, and is a contributing writer to Colorado Politics and The Gazette.

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