Would-Be-Gov. Penry’s rehashed Republican revolution

Josh “unannounced candidate for governor” Penry threw down the gauntlet Wednesday to fellow GOP officials, calling for an end to “flim-flam, mealy-mouthed Republicans.” We must provide a “contrast” and not merely be an “echo chamber” for the Democrats if we’re going to win in 2010, he said. What a speech!

Except, aren’t we now witnessing the humiliating fallout of the stridently partisan 1990s Republican Revolution?

Sen. McCain and Pres. Obama came together on immigration reform yesterday. Hardline S.C. Gov. Sanford went love-sick wacko after lawmakers overrode his ideological rejection of stimulus money. Americans agree across the board that the healthcare system needs reform as the kingpins of private insurance got hammered on the Hill.

But Penry wants more opposition. More tea parties! More of the kind of intransigent resistance to the ruling party he demonstrated this year as minority leader in the state senate and that led to progressively wilting influence by the Republicans. Besides boldly thumbing noses at Democrats, what does Penry suggest his party members do to move the country out of the era of energy dependence, financial-sector brinksmanship and the gaping income gap– presuming, that is, that the members of his party don’t want to extend that era? Proclaiming boldly that they did want to extend that era, now that would be providing a contrast we can believe in!

Would-be-governor Penry seemed to be talking about fiscal discipline. Here are some fiscal facts listeners should bring to his next stump speech, courtesy of the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute (COFPI).

Colorado continues to lag far behind most other states in the country in terms of key investments such as education, health care, higher education, and transportation…. Colorado ranks 47th in total state spending.

Colorado is approximately $4.89 billion behind what it would take to move to the U.S. average in terms of investment in critical public services. The following five categories of vital public services shows Colorado lagging behind compared to almost every other state, as well as the corresponding investment it would take to actually reach the U.S. average:

Total State Expenditures:

* Colorado ranks 47th in total state expenditures per $1000 of personal income
– $4.89 billion to reach the per $1000 of personal income U.S. average

* Colorado ranks 45th in total state expenditures per capita
– $3.62 billion to reach the per capita U.S. average

Elementary and Secondary Schools:

* Colorado ranks 48th for investment in public education per $1000 of personal income

– $1.78 billion to reach the per $1000 of personal income U.S. average

* Colorado ranks 32nd for investment in public education per capita

– $1.06 billion to reach the per capita U.S. average

Children’s Health and Medicaid:

* Colorado ranks 49th for investment in covering families under Medicaid per $1000 of personal income

* Colorado ranks 35th for investment in covering low-income children per $1000 of personal income

– Combined $1.57 billion to reach per $1000 of personal income U.S. average

* Colorado ranks 49th for investment in covering families under Medicaid per capita

* Colorado ranks 31st for investment in covering low-income children per capita

– Combined $1.23 billion to reach the per capita U.S. average

College Opportunity:

* Colorado ranks 48th for higher education per $1000 of personal income

– $761 million to reach the per $1000 of personal income U.S. average

* Colorado ranks 48th for investment on higher education per capita

– $594 million to reach the per capita U.S. average

Transportation and Highways:

* Colorado ranks 48th for transportation and highways investment per $1000 of personal income

– $683 million to reach the per $1000 of personal income U.S. average

* Colorado ranks 48th for investment on transportation and highways per capita

– $573 million to reach the per capita U.S. average

End note by COFPI Senior Fiscal Analyst Carol Hedges:

“The most startling thing about this data is that it doesn’t reflect the effect of the recession. This data is from when the state’s economy was in good shape, so we know it only goes downhill from there.”

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