Guest Editorial: Under the Dome: News from House District 57

By BOB RANKIN
Special to the Herald Times
RBC | Education Leadership
Council: My big news this month is
my participation with the lieutenant
governor as co-chair of a reinvigorated
ELC. We will appoint the members
this month and start our work to
build a vision for the future of education
in our state. It will include all
aspects of lifelong learning from the
parent as first teacher to senior citizens
continuing to learn. It will be
more about the process and structure
to capture the vision and dreams of
parents, teachers, students and taxpayers
than mandating solutions
from Denver.
Colorado Energy Office: Many of
my constituents have been concerned
and let me know their desire to keep
the CEO funded. The good news is
that we now have funding to keep the
office staffed until the next legislative
session. There were attempts to reach
a compromise on this funding and the
mission of the office during the last
session and those attempts failed.
Without legislative support, the Joint
Budget Committee should not override
the process and approve funding,
so I voted against a supplemental
measure at our June meeting. I did
not vote against the existence of the
office and I will support it if the general
assembly comes to agreement.
Joint Budget Committee: I’m
honored to serve on this important
committee. We work from early
November through the middle of
May while the regular legislative session
only runs from mid-January to
May. We try to separate major policy
issues from budget decisions, but of
course budget is policy and we can’t
completely separate them.
Controversial decisions like the energy
office and the hospital provider
fee belong in the larger legislative
process that draws in all of the elected
Representatives and Senators.
Budget: Our last forecast was
down from the March forecast but
with a $28 billion
total budget
and $12 billion
of that being
general fund
from taxes, small
percentages are
big money. We
get another forecast
in
September and
will start to
budget to it in
November. The big challenges are
changes coming to federal Medicaid
funding, demands to put more
money in education and funding of
our transportation needs. Not to
mention that the prison population is
trending up and we are out of prison
space. With the changes to budgeting
implemented by SB17-267, we don’t
have near term expectations of
exceeding the TABOR spending
limit so our budget will be based on
tax collections, fees and federal revenue
and there will be no taxpayer
refunds. But spending authority is
not spendable revenue so funding
challenges have not substantially
changed.
Outreach: I’ll be traveling
throughout my three county district
57 in the next few weeks and accompanying
Joyce as she visits schools
throughout the whole of western
Colorado. As always, I want to hear
from local government and citizens
about their concerns and expectations
of state government. Going into
my sixth year and session, I still find
new dragons to slay almost every
day. But I’ve also learned enough to
connect resources and help my district,
so let’s talk.
Representative Bob Rankin represents
House District 57. He
writes the monthly column “Under
the Dome” hoping to inform and
engage the constituents in his district.
He serves on the Joint Budget
Committee and represents Garfield,
Rio Blanco and Moffat Counties.