Rep. Wes McKinley's (D) District 64 (Cokedale), bill (HB 12-1109) proposing to reduce all Colorado departmental employee's salary by 7.9% in order to fund education ($198 million toward a $1-4 billion shortfall) stirred up animosities at the Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday morning at 7:30 am, April 17, 2012. Read the bill and its fiscal impact.
Funding education in Colorado has always been a problem, but the recent Lobato decision has thrown a billion dollar judicial monkey wrench into the works. If you are not familiar with the Lobato decision, I suggest you go here first to understand the big picture before you watch the vidie, and here for a written summary of this Committee hearing
Aside: The vidie is 50 minutes long and unedited. I spent a day editing it in an effort to get it down to an acceptable size, which for YouTube is about 10 minutes, but it is so packed with drama that I finally decided just to upload the whole thing. I'll give you some marker points to skip to if you want just the highlights. If you drag the pointer along the timeline below the picture you can find the time mark and start there.
Despite the repeated emotional attacks (2:14)(21:30) of Rep. Cheri Gerou, (R) District 25 (Jefferson county), McKinley, the Zen cowboy of southeast Colorado, remains calm and resolute (0:59)(33:10). After all, he reasons, if we don't have enough money to fund education, we are going to have to cut something else, and McKinley's "we are all going to have to bleed a little" (49:00) spreads the pain across all State employee's making more than $50,000 (if amended- L002).
Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R) District 65 (Sterling) then takes Gerou to task for attacking McKinley (24:33).
It is the childish behavior of the so-called House minority "leader" Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D), District 2, south-central Denver, to which I would call your attention.
Ferrandino acts like an immature, petulant nerd with the arrogance of petty power. He first tries to send the bill to oblivion with a substitute motion to PI (postpone indefinitely) the bill (36:15). That fails on a 7-6 vote. Then, saying he wasn't going to say anything (50:12), he lets loose with his own emotional tirade, eventually accusing McKinley of lying. After he speaks, his eyes dart furtively around the room, trying to assess the effect of his words. During the final vote, apparently disgusted, he dramatically leaves the room as the vote is being taken, passing 7-6 and headed for the House floor.
It is fortunate that the high school students from Trinidad High, Elliana Hillhouse, Jeana Hoffpauir, and Cody Johnson, testifying (4:57) that their school has 10 year-old computers, a chemistry lab not updated since the 1970s, and has been forced to lay off teachers, were exposed to the immature bickering of their legislative elders. They are the future, as Elliana said, and maybe they will be inspired by this experience. Or maybe not.