Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ritter, Suthers Endorse Romanoff's SAFE Proposal

Speaker Andrew Romanoff's proposal to untangle the state constitution's fiscal knot received the endorsement of the two most powerful members of the executive branch Thursday.

Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and Republican attorney general John Suthers attended a news conference for supporters of Romanoff's idea at the Capitol.

Ritter called the so-called "SAFE" proposal, which would permanently "de-Bruce" the state budget by allowing the General Assembly to appropriate funds that exceed the TABOR cap and eliminate the Amendment 23 education funding mandate, "bold and elegant."

However, the governor also made clear the criteria that must be met for him to support whatever resolution asking the voters for a constitutional amendment emerges from the legislature.

“I have insisted that this proposal protects Senate Bill 1 transportation dollars, similar to how it is protected in current law," Ritter said. "Transportation funding is a top priority and we must ensure that Senate Bill 1 is funded whenever possible."

Romanoff's proposal would require that all revenues generated by existing taxes in excess of six percent growth over the prior year's budget be routed into transportation funding.

Ritter also emphasized that any constitutional fix must assure the permanent solvency of any rainy-day fund set up to replace the Amendment 23 mandate.

“I will also insist that this proposal ensures our rainy day fund for K-12 remains solvent," Ritter said. "We have taken steps to restore this fund’s solvency and I am committed to ensuring it remains solvent. Flexibility cannot come on the backs of our children.”

According to a news release issued by the House majority communications office, other supporters of the SAFE proposal include Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Fort Collins, Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, state treasurer Cary Kennedy, and numerous education and business leaders.