Colorado Editorial Roundup
Greeley Tribune, Nov. 27, on the sensible next step in transportation funding for Colorado:
With the defeat of propositions 109 and 110, the future of transportation funding in Colorado is murky at best.
One thing we do know: When voters voted down the pair of propositions earlier this month, Colorado reverted to Senate Bill 1.
Senate Bill 1, which was co-sponsored by Sen. John Cooke, R-Greeley, provides additional money in the budget for transportation funding this year and next year and places a $2.3 billion bond measure for transportation on the November 2019 ballot. Cooke said the bond will be paid back over 20 years, $150 million per year, with $100 million coming from the state’s general fund and $50 million coming from the Colorado Department of Transportation annually.
However, the bill also is statutory, which means the Legislature can change it in 2019 or abandon it altogether.
That brings us to the second thing we know for sure regarding transportation funding in Colorado: We sincerely hope our state officials keep their hands off Senate Bill 1 in the coming year.
The measure carries the unique distinction of having the support of both parties, and it offers the clearest direct route to some meaningful action on roads in a state where such funding is dreadfully — sometimes almost dangerously — overdue.
We realize this isn’t the final answer to our transportation funding issues and that eventually some other action will be necessary. But to even get to that next step, we need action now. And just as we did when it was signed this past spring, we think Senate Bill 1 is the best way to get the ball rolling.
After the defeat of 109 and 110, Cooke expressed confidence that Senate Bill 1 could provide some answers as long as “people don’t mess with it.”
We hope state officials let Senate Bill 1 do what it was intended to and starts moving us sensibly toward better-funded roads in Colorado.
The Durango Herald, Nov. 27, on Polis rattling teachers union supporters with team selections:
When Gov.-elect Jared Polis announced his transition teams recently, there was some fear and frustration and even a protest in Boulder about the makeup of the 16-member education team.
Polis said it would be a bipartisan transition and pointed to former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer, a Republican, who was named to the education team. Also on it are Colorado Sen. Mike Johnston and education activist Jen Walmer.
Advocates for public education and teachers unions cried foul because all three of those team members are advocates for charter schools.
Schaffer has been a leader on charters. So has former state Sen. Polly Baca, also named to the team. Schaffer currently serves as headmaster of Liberty Common Charter School, in Fort Collins, one of the top public schools in the state.
Charter schools have played a useful role in improving education in Colorado since they were first allowed 25 years ago, which can be seen here in Durango at Animas High School. However, if you were particularly advocating for higher pay for union teachers, we could see how you might fear their slow rise. Their teachers, who typically are not union members, appear on average to earn considerably less.
The schools are part of a broader movement that seeks to reform education in part by end-running unionized teachers, who, they say, too often are unaccountable for their performance.
The traditional model of public schools, along with unionized teachers, has been lackluster for some time now. We know this is so because we have heard it most loudly proclaimed by advocates for public education, who insist that the solution is more funding for education, including higher pay for union teachers.
There are some critical shortfalls in public funding for K-12 education. There is also a great deal of public funding for education — almost 40 percent of the Colorado general fund is spent on K-12 education — which leads some to wonder where the accountability is for this mess.
Will paying teachers more raise average SAT scores? Is there any way to quantify results on a dollar-spent basis? Are we pouring tax revenues into a black hole? Where is the impetus for efficiency?
And what about competition? Union teachers say they must be protected from at-will employment policies, for example — but that is precisely the status of most workers, especially those who are not paid with tax dollars.
We should not have to choose between job security and performance, but if we do, we would choose performance because that means better outcomes for students, which ought to be our first concern.
It is true that Colorado’s voters just gave Democrats a mandate in the state Legislature and the governor’s mansion. But not all Democrats are alike — Polis, for instance, founded the New America School charter schools — and we should recall those same voters swatted down a handsome tax hike for education.
So far, all we are discussing is a transition team — one which also includes Amie Baca-Ohlert, the president of the Colorado Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union. No one is crying foul at that.
Luke Ragland of the pro-school-voucher group Ready Colorado said in a statement that “The CEA is represented on the committee, just as reform advocates are. Apparently for the union, it’s not enough for them to have a seat at the table, but all dissenting voices must be silenced.”
We hope that is not the case. It is not as though Polis has proposed a vast expansion of non-union schools. He could, though. And some in this discussion are going to have to accept that there are bona fide education reformers who are opposed to teachers unions — and they might just as legitimately seek better education outcomes.
Aurora Sentinel, Nov. 25, on Trump and Colorado GOP pointing out climate change folly:
President Trump was unwittingly right last week while tweeting again about climate change, cold weather and “RECORDS BROKEN.”
The real record broken, however, was for Trump topping his own impressive dossier of ludicrous, maleficent and banal nonsense about what is arguably the greatest threat to the United States and most likely, all of mankind.
“Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS — Whatever happened to Global Warming?” — Trump said Wednesday in a tweet.
That was only part of Trump’s banner week.
The Trump Administration later in the week then worked to bury an annual climate change report from his own government, which refuted his fallacious weather conflation. It’s another move where Trump demonstrates what is either his ignorance of science or corrupt plot to refute it.
Each year, the American government is required to make an annual assessment on global climate change. The Trump White House released the alarming report on Black Friday, a spurious effort to try and bury it.
Even for a president who excels at flaunting his incompetence, his cruelty, his corruption and his obstinacy, Trump truly has outdone himself this week by trying to hide an authoritative, unequivocal rebuke of those, like himself, who either deny or ignore the threat of global warming.
“Climate change is transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us,” according to scientists working for 13 U.S. government agencies and other eminent researchers from across the nation, all writing for the annually mandated National Climate Assessment.
The report offers voluminous detail about how global warming, triggered by the use of gas, oil and coal, is hurting every region of the United States, damaging the economy, increasing deaths and boosting human illness and disease.
“Annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century — more than the current gross domestic product of many U.S. states,” the report says.
In addition to trillions of dollars and lives lost in massive hurricanes and wildfires fueled by a warming planet, Americans won’t have to wait decades to be threatened by climate change, the report makes clear.
“We are seeing the things we said would be happening, happen now in real life,” said one report co-author Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University, speaking to The Associated Press. “As a climate scientist, it is almost surreal.”
It’s a nightmare made only worse by a president and government leaders who openly scoff at the threat and the irrefutable science explaining it.
But this is a man who openly lies about any number of critical things, including, most recently, that his own government determined a top Saudi official ordered the murder of an American journalist. Americans are endangered not only because Trump so freely lies, but because so many Republican leaders in Congress give him cover or openly support Trump’s fabrications.
Trump is not alone in ignoring or lying about the danger. Right here in Colorado, Republican political leaders and pundits were enraged last week that Colorado will do an end run around an effort by the Trump Administration to stop the government from requiring new cars burn less fossil fuel. The higher fuel-efficiency requirements are an effort to stem global warming and produce less air pollution.
Gov. John Hickenlooper joined 12 other states this summer by ordering cars to meet California fuel consumption standards by 2022. Colorado and other states joined California after Trump ended the same nationwide requirements created by the Obama administration.
Colorado Republican leaders scoffed two weeks ago when a state agency made the adoption formal, saying that Colorado is ceding power to California, and that a bigger worry is cars with bigger sticker prices, even though owners will save the money in fuel consumption.
“An unelected board just unanimously decided to raise the cost of a new car in Colorado an average of $2,110,” Colorado GOP Senate officials said in a tweet. “The working class of Colorado needs relief from the state, not more costly regulations, fees, and taxes.”
The stunning disinformation is a revival of Trump Administration climate-change classics.
The vast majority of Americans and Colorado residents understand the looming danger climate change imposes on all of us.
More than a million Colorado residents now live in areas threatened by wildfires created or worsened by climate change. The livelihoods of millions of rural Colorado residents who make their living in agriculture are at risk as drought and severe weather threaten cattle and farming operations alike. The state’s tourism business, which pumps hundreds of billions of dollars each year into the state economy are also at risk from drought, wildfire and extreme weather.
It’s no longer enough to rebuke the hokum of clods and cons in Washington and the state Capitol. Americans must empower leaders who will take immediate action against the threat.
Anything else is putting our trust in Trump.