Governor Hickenlooper made many a promise on the campaign trail to reduce red tape and bureaucratic headaches. The thing is…no one thought his first attempt to make red tape reform would be to make it easier to access government entitlements that are already making the state broke.
Yesterday, Hick announced the reform of the process to apply for a variety of government programs, making getting government assistance a much easier proposition and thereby expanding the enrollment in those programs. The Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) thinks the potential exists to double the number of people on Medicaid, the budgetary item that is already responsible for virtually all of the increased spending in Hickenlooper's proposed budget for next year.
The new state House Minority Leader, Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) laughably lauded the reform as improving "efficiency in government." Per the Pueblo Chieftain:
The governor has said since he took office that he wants to see efficiency in government, and that's exactly what this is. It's not expanding eligibility, it's just a better way of reaching people who are eligible for and entitled to these benefits.
Good thing Hickenlooper was not expanding eligibility, as a bill supported by Ferrandino did in 2009. Despite Ferrandino's statement prior to the legislation’s passage that the Medicaid expansion wouldn't "cost the state very much dollars," the bill ended up expanding into a pool three times the amount of people originally estimated at NINE TIMES THE COST estimates.
Ferrandino, unlike us and most of Colorado, seems to share Hickenlooper's warped view of the phrase "efficiency in government." In a time of economic malaise such as this, we generally assume that means making it easier to start businesses or cutting out redundant bureaucratic positions, not spending more tax dollars we don't have, quicker.
Hick did, after all, promise to reduce regulations for businesses across Colorado. He backed off pushing that big bill last year, as Hick likes to "avoid the big fights." Much easier to increase government spending, especially when he doesn't need the Legislature's approval.
Not that it won't affect the state government budget. It will.
As Colorado must balance its budget every year and voters overwhelmingly rejected raising taxes when they shot down Prop 103 nearly 2:1, there is simply not enough resources to offer everybody a full plate of government entitlement programs.
There's not — not if you care about the kids. If more people start joining entitlement programs that means less money for roads and education. The budget pie doesn't expand if you add more people to the government social program rolls, it just means less pie for everything else.
We thought Prop 103 supporter Mark Ferrandino cared about the kids. Guess he and Hick don't.