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Colorado Citizens Draft a Budget

by john stephenson / /

Lately, the politicians who control Congress and the state house in Denver have complained about the difficulty with writing a sensible budget in a down economy. Perhaps they should consult with the people of Colorado more closely.

Late last week, the Independence Institute, Colorado’s premier free-market think tank, released the Colorado Citizens’ Budget, a product of many hours work by volunteers to find a way to balance the state’s budget without raising taxes. Some highlights from the Citizens’ Budget include: pension reform to reduce unfunded liabilities, fewer incarcerations for non-violent offenders to reduce the size of the corrections budget, more school choice to reduce the cost of K-12 education, and reforming Medicaid eligibility.

To think that the Citizens’ Budget is just about saving money or getting the state through the next budget cycle is to miss the point of the project. As Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, puts it: “The [Colorado] General Assembly over the course of the next several years must make difficult decisions and will dramatically shape our state's economy. Its debates will echo the important question about the nature of government that is being carried out in Washington, D.C. Will we as a People expect only those public goods that allow for a vibrant, growing private sector, or will we demand an ever-larger, more intrusive government on which we depend for our every need and decision?”

To answer this question, it is helpful to read the Citizens’ Budget in its entirety.