$19,000 office decor?  I'll sign the check myself.

$19,000 office decor? I’ll sign the check myself.

In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper bemoaned the idea that the State of Colorado would have to refund tax dollars to taxpayers as part of the Colorado constitution.  From the article:

“Hickenlooper says [giving funds back to taxpayers] will mean the state may have to cut some essential services. As an example, he says the state won’t be able to provide oversight of nursing homes to the extent it currently does — and at a time when the nursing home population is growing.”

Given this dire proclamation that nursing homes will lack oversight – Grandma is in danger! – we assume that the state budget contains absolutely no fat that it could trim from superfluous or wasteful programs.  Wait.  What’s that?  There are areas of massive waste.  But, what about Grandma?  Here are some suggested areas from which to cut the fat:

  • Rein in Connect for Health Colorado’s spending as a recent audit showed that the exchange was blowing through tax dollars, some of which enriched Democratic political operatives, like Hick’s campaign team.  While much of the exchange was federally-funded, the state spent at least $20 million in 2013 to support the out-of-control organization.  The worst offense?  Nearly $40,000 for promotional lip balm.  Grandma could have some silky soft lips with $40,ooo in chapstick.  Then, there was the firm given $129,000 to engage voters in healthcare – a contract that the audit found to be so incomplete that it was unclear whether campaign finance laws were broken. (We’re guessing yes.)
  • Leave the Morrison bridge alone.  U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn listed this bridge as one of the worst wastes in the country in his 2014 annual “Wastebook”.  Apparently, there was talk about whether the bridge would have to be torn down for not using enough steel manufactured in the United States.  We can appreciate the sentiment, but wasting more tax dollars isn’t the answer.  This would cost at least $20,000 to fix, according to the report.
  • Hickenlooper could stop with all the Blue Ribbon Commissions and wasteful task forces.  You know, since they accomplish pretty much nothing, and only enrich his buddies.
  • Colorado public schools could tighten belts regarding the $200,000 they spent on fast food and thousands spent on conferences at swanky resorts like the Broadmoor.  Just saying.  Grandma might like a stay at the Broadmoor, though.
  • Maybe the Governor’s Energy Office could track down the $252 million it “misplaced” to help with Grandma’s care?
  • Consider closing the medical marijuana loophole that’s allowing millions of tax dollars to go up in smoke.  Those who use marijuana recreationally can avoid the large taxes on recreational marijuana by purchasing it as medical marijuana, which is taxed at a rate 22% lower.  Just convince one of the, maybe, four doctors in the state who write, oh we don’t know, 95% of medical marijuana prescriptions that your wallet pain back pain necessitates medical marijuana use.
  • Buy state office furniture from Ikea, not Sothebys.  A 2013 report found that each appellate judge’s chambers in the new Ralph Carr Justice Center costs $19,000 to decorate, which included end tables that cost nearly $6,000.  Pretty sure Grandma’s entire house was furnished for $6,000.
  • And, then, there’s Grandma’s favorite Colorado-based movie, Dinonauts, which received a $64,000 grant to create the crappiest, most bizarre movie of all time. It speaks for itself.

We’re not saying TABOR is the best thing ever (actually, we are saying that), but before Hickenlooper recommends that the state keep Colorado taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars, let’s start by cutting the cronyism and waste in the state budget.  We think that Grandma would approve.