Tancredo calls for special session; Ritter says no

American Constitution Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo today asked Gov. Bill Ritter to call a special session of the state legislature to deal with the state’s ongoing budget crush.

The governor said “no.”

Tancredo’s statement follows:

“Once again, Colorado is facing a budget shortfall nearly $200 million larger than we were told just a month ago. At this rate we could be facing a $1.5 billion budget hole before the new governor and legislature are sworn in.

“I call on Governor Ritter to demand across-the-board reductions for this year and to call a special session of the legislature to begin making the necessary structural changes that government must make to get state spending back into line with available revenues.

“These things have to be done soon and there is no reason to put off the inevitable. The people of Colorado expect and deserve fiscal responsibility from their elected officials; and they can’t afford higher taxes. The only solution is to cut spending.

“On my first day as governor, I will direct my cabinet to identify 10 percent across-the-board cuts. Then I will call for a top-to-bottom review of state departments, agencies, boards, and commissions with everything on the table except the safety of our citizens and tax hikes. And again I call on John Hickenlooper to join me in making that commitment — or to stop calling himself a ‘fiscal conservative.’”

Evan Dreyer, the governor’s director of communications, told the Colorado Independent there will be no special session. He said the Legislature will be back in session in three months and that the Joint Budget Committee will meet in November.

“To call a special session at this point would be a waste of money,” he said.

Dreyer pointed out that the governor gets revised budget forecasts every three months from state economists. “The governor has repeatedly cut spending in order to keep the budget balanced. His ability to keep the budget balanced has been proven.”

Dreyer said the governor and his staff would spend the next couple of weeks drafting a plan to cover the shortfall and would then present the plan to the JBC on Nov. 1.

When the new budget forecast was released Monday, the governor issued this statement:

“Today’s forecasts are a clear reminder that Colorado’s economic recovery is not nearly as robust as Coloradans want or need. Economic growth remains volatile and sluggish, and Colorado families and businesses are not yet seeing healthy, sustainable or certain growth in their bottom lines, while government agencies also continue to face difficult budgets.

“Since the recession started, my office and the legislature have cut spending and closed shortfalls of $4.4 billion. Today’s forecasts mean we face even more difficult and unenviable decisions ahead to keep the budget balanced – and we’ll be making those decisions from a list of options that has grown shorter and shorter since the recession hit.

“We will do what we can to minimize pain and protect essential services. We’ll continue to employ a strategy of shared sacrifice and solutions, and we are going to remain aggressive about economic development so Colorado is well-positioned for a strong, sustainable and healthy recovery.

“As challenging as today’s forecasts are, the fact remains that the economy is better off today than it was a year ago. We are seeing positive signs – consumer spending is growing, new claims for unemployment insurance are down and people are reducing their debt levels – and we are well-positioned for sustainable growth in the months ahead.”

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The campaigns of Democrat John Hickenlooper and Republican Dan Maes declined comment.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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