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Colorado Citizens Draft a Budget

by John Stephenson / /

Lately, the politicians who control Congress and the statehouse in Denver have complained about the difficulty with writing a sensiblebudget in a down economy. Perhaps they should consult with the people ofColorado more closely.

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

To think that the Citizens’ Budget is just about savingmoney or getting the state through the next budget cycle is to miss the pointof the project. As Jon Caldara, President of the Independence Institute, putsit: “The [Colorado]General Assembly over the course of the next several years must make difficultdecisions and will dramatically shape our state's economy. Its debates willecho the important question about the nature of government that is beingcarried out in Washington, D.C. Will we as a People expect only those publicgoods that allow for a vibrant, growing private sector, or will we demand anever-larger, more intrusive government on which we depend for our every needand decision?”

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