By Kevin Lundberg
District 15 State Senator
Here are my final observations of the 2009 general session:
I am pro-free market, pro-taxpayer, pro-limited government, pro-life, and pro-family.
Unfortunately this year’s legislature was not, and it was a tough year for advocates of life and liberty.
This is my seventh year in the legislature and my first year in the Senate. Despite the difficult political terrain, l very much enjoyed working in the Senate. The smaller numbers allow for more flexibility and greater opportunity to dig deeper into the issues.
On the Republican side of the isle we have a great team. We are on the same page and work well together. It is an honor to be a part of the Republican caucus in the Colorado Senate.
This year I had some success with my own legislation as two bills were signed into law. One requires readable signs for photo-radar traffic enforcement systems and the other essentially allows drill team prop rifles to be stored in student’s vehicles. I also co-sponsored 82 bills and resolutions and got a Memorial passed in the Senate calling for Congress to end the earmarking process. This was the final measure the Senate passed in this year’s general session. Bills I introduced that did not make it through included an educational tax credit bill, a transparency in new school construction measure and a bill to encourage new job production in the oil shale industry.
As chairman for the Republican Study Committee of Colorado I held several informative study sessions on economics, immigration, the budget and other issues that emphasized core Republican principles for good government. In March I helped organize a Pastor’s Day that brought about 150 church leaders to the capitol.
I supported policies that promote Northern Colorado businesses and my voting record proves it. For the second year in a row I was rated as 100% by the Northern Colorado Legislative Alliance (a coalition of the Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley Chambers of Commerce).
Much of what we do in the legislature is not very controversial and consequently does not get much attention in the media. However, there are issues over which we battle and this year the over-all agenda was clearly for more taxes, bigger government and radical social changes. The constitution was ignored, unions obeyed and, even in this economic recession, next year’s budget is the biggest in history.
The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the 2007 legislature’s property tax increase was legal, despite the constitutional requirement for the people to vote on all increases. This year the legislature added more new taxes and some taxes they called “fees,” all without the people’s constitutionally required vote. These included a $41 car tax, a hospital bed tax, an increase in certain capitol gains taxes and so many more new taxes for living in Colorado that I cannot list them all here. In all, nearly a billion dollars in new taxes and fees were piled onto the people of Colorado.
The rush to ignore the constitution also stretched beyond tax increases. The legislature violated the people’s requirement to directly approve spending increases by removing the six percent limit on the growth of the general fund. This will choke off hundreds of millions of dollars from highway construction and open the floodgates for even more government programs. In the Senate we filibustered this bill for 14 hours, but in the end, by a party-line vote, it passed and the governor signed it.
When it came time to create next year’s budget, instead of really cutting back, like everyone one else is having to do, the legislature took $250,000,000 from cash funds, increased taxes and fees and spent all of the one-time Federal “stimulus” dollars they could get their hands on. We are entering the next year with virtually no reserves. Incredibly, even though this year everyone saw that we should have done this years ago, the legislature rejected my rainy-day fund proposal, again.
In addition, the governor’s industry-busting oil and gas regulations were approved, and medical insurance mandates were passed that, according to the legislature’s own fiscal estimates, will cost families thousands more in medical insurance premiums every year. The expressed will of the people was defied with the passage of the same-sex benefits for state employees and the designated beneficiary bill. These bills essentially put into law the domestic partnership concept that the voters rejected in 2006.
Also glaring in state policy is a troubling obedience to global warming alarmists. I believe we should support renewable energy development, but not because carbon dioxide is a pollutant that is destroying the planet. Renewable energy makes sense and it can be a bright part of our future where it is cost effective. Unfortunately the legislature is following the governor’s lead by assuming we have to cripple our economy with fiscally irresponsible measures that are focused on minimizing and trapping CO2.
I know that as we look forward, with all of the challenges we face in promoting good, limited government principles, it can seem daunting. However, I am still confident that most Colorado citizens, especially here in Larimer County, understand that personal responsibility and individual liberty are still essential principles for a free and prosperous land.
I believe we must defend life and liberty and I will continue to fight for your freedom to pursue your happiness and the happiness of your children and their children as you have determined, not as so many are trying to dictate down in Denver.
I will, as long as the people of Senate District 15 allow, continue to fight for pro-free market, pro-taxpayer, pro-limited government, pro-life, and pro-family principles.