Fiscal hawk Schultheis: Cut preschools, pay lawmakers

Colorado Springs self-described fiscal hawk Sen. Dave Schultheis voted yesterday not to cut lawmaker pay. He says he knows some of these public servants and they’re barely making it. But the legislature has to make cuts. There’s no way around it this year, with the budget in the red everywhere you look. Who does Schultheis suggest should be forced to tighten their belts? Preschool teachers and social workers. That is, people Schultheis doesn’t personally know, that’s who.

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It is the latest chapter in this year’s budget wrangling that is sorely testing Republican philosophical commitments to cutting down the size government. When it comes to making the hard choices, glaring examples of GOP backpedaling have defined the session.

Last month, Republican lawmakers rolled out a splashy counter proposal to the Democratic plan to raise revenues by eliminating long-standing business tax breaks. The alternative Republican idea was to simply make more cuts to government programs. The catch was that they wanted the Democrats and Gov. Ritter in particular to suggest which programs to cut.

“What about it?” said Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry, playing the innocent. “Other governors are recommending cuts.”

Ritter over the past two recession-wracked fiscal years has engineered billions in state program cutbacks, surely more than any other governor in the state’s history. Penry, who was running for governor last year and is now aggressively supporting Republican Scott McInnis’s bid for the office, has volubly criticized some of those Ritter cuts. Penry would clearly relish the opportunity to do more of the same.

Colorado preschool teachers and social workers must be wondering if Sen. Schultheis has bothered to wonder at the state of their family finances. To get his attention, they’ll have to run for office.

From Schultheis’s website, an excerpted list of the cuts he proposes:

K-12 Education: Eliminate all pre-school programs

K-12 Education: Eliminate funding any advertising dollars by Public Schools

Education: Higher: Allow Universities to set tuition levels (this will promote more cost-consciousness by University officials)

Medicaid: Reduce program eligibility on all programs to 100% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL)

Medicaid: Eliminate all efforts to increase the numbers of Medicaid recipients, including through advertising

Medicaid: End all efforts to enroll still more uninsured in the Medicaid program or on welfare rolls. Runaway Medicaid programs must be reigned in.

Medicaid: Require larger co-payments for each office call.

Medicaid: Eliminate all or a number of the ten Medicaid-optional programs

Appeal to all religious and private charitable organizations throughout the state to help meet the growing physical, mental and financial needs within their communities. In this vein, develop a state referral program to such organizations willing to be involved.

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