As Colorado once again deals with devastating wildfires, many Coloradans are likely wondering why we still refuse to prepare for what is an inevitable issue — putting the fires out. In fact, a legislative fix was proposed this past session by State Senator Steve King (R-Grand Junction) to buy a set of air tankers, but Democrats voted against spending a mere $17 million to buy the planes.
While the bill, SB245, was signed by Governor Hickenlooper to create an air tanker fleet, there was no money attached to it. That’s led the press to refer to the endeavor as “paper airplanes” as they exist only on paper at this point.
What fools voted against funding the tankers?
That would be Democratic Senators Rollie Heath, Jesse Ulibarri, Pat Steadman and Mary Hodge.
Governor Hickenlooper also has culpability in this outcome. For a governor who bragged he didn’t veto a single bill because he was allegedly so effective at managing the legislative process to his liking, why couldn’t he manage to get $17 million for such a critical need as planes to fight wildfires?
To be sure, should Democrats have decided to spend the money on common sense things like air tankers in a state annually beset by wildfires, rather than banning guns or teaching sex ed to kindergartners, the tanker fleet wouldn’t be up and running for this current raft of fires.
But, with the Democrats voting against the tankers, they probably won’t be ready for next wildfire season either.
When reporters cover this latest foreseeable tragedy, we hope they remind readers that it was Democrats who decided their tax money was better spent banning standard capacity magazines than fighting wildfires.
UPDATE: A reader writes in to point out SB245, the air tanker bill, was classic Hickenlooper — with the governor making an empty gesture by signing the bill without any actual dollars attached to it. It allowed him to claim he did something without actually doing anything.
Think of it as partially commuting the death sentence for a real tanker bill that would have had real funding and real muscle behind it.
Even when it comes to something as easy as forest fires, Hick is a weak suck.