Jan 182010
Authors: Ian Bezek

While we college students are blessed to get a month-long break, one man has us beat. Gov. Bill Ritter, at the ripe young age of 54, announced that he will not be seeking another term after his current one expires. He is retiring and wants to spend more time with his family, but then again, doesn’t everyone?

In his absence, it is clear that Colorado is going to get our own more local change, as both prominent candidates, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and Scott McInnis, a Republican, have distanced themselves from the policies of the current governor, Ritter.

Many pundits suspect that Ritter has decided to prematurely retire due to his campaign’s failing poll numbers.
I’m not sure whether Ritter was a bad leader or whether he just inherited a lousy economic and political situation.

Whatever the cause of his failings, it’s clear that Coloradans are fed up with our state’s current direction.
Before Ritter dropped out of the governor’s race, it appeared likely that McInnis, a former six-term Colorado congressman, was likely to become the next governor. McInnis crafted his campaign on the appealing notion of kicking out the bum incumbent.

But now, with Ritter out of the way and the likable Mayor Hickenlooper carrying none of the luggage of Ritter’s troubling governorship, it appears the governor’s race is going to be a close battle right up until election day.
While most of the citizenry don’t start paying attention to the political scene until late summer or fall, this governor’s race is unusually important and demands our attention.

The state of Colorado faces a profoundly unsettled economic picture. Despite rumors of an economic recovery, state tax revenue continues to steadily decline, while demand for social services continues to rise in these hard times.

We as students and members of the academic community are particularly affected by the decisions made at the Capitol.
Due to the bizarre patchwork of constitutional amendments Colorado’s voters have passed along with demands from the federal government, Colorado is forced to steadily increase its spending on health care and K-12 education, crowding out all other services such as transportation, corrections and higher education.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that compared with keeping order in our jails and fixing our dilapidated roads, higher education is going to suffer the brunt of budget cuts. In fact, this is precisely what has happened over the past couple of years.

I don’t have the answers on how to fix higher education, I’m very happy that it isn’t my job to fix this seemingly unsolvable mess. But it alarms me deeply that the candidates for governor don’t seem to have them either –– we pay them to be governor for a reason.

The McInnis campaign has been particularly silent on what it’s going to do to fix the fiscal mess. Vague platitudes about sound fiscal policy can’t pay the state’s mounting bills.

The Hickenlooper campaign is still in its early days, but I haven’t heard much from him yet about his solutions to this mess either. It’s unfortunate that Colorado Sen. Josh Penry dropped out of the Republican primary –– he had many more concrete ideas than what the other candidates have thus far offered.

With Colorado working with a budget of more than $600 million for this fiscal year, according to the Denver Post, the time for partisan politicking is over. We need real workable solutions to this fiscal crisis now.
As candidates for governor, McInnis and Hickenlooper need to come up with some ideas.

There’s no magic bullet, but we as voters must demand that the governor we elect has a plan that is more than a collection of talking points.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:53 pm

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