Monday, August 17, 2009

The Joint Budget Committee turns sharply right

Steve Balboni said it would be like this. It was an odd move for Gov. Ritter to hire state Rep. Don Marostica (R-Loveland) as his chief economic development director last month. Marostica, a mavericky Republican who occasionally voted with Democrats on budgetary issues, thus resigned from the state house and from his key position on the powerful Joint Budget Committee, which drafts Colorado's budgets.

Today, the Republicans placed hardcore anti-tax Rep. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs) on the JBC. This moves the median position on the JBC considerably rightward, which will undoubtedly affect state budgeting in the near term.

As with most moves by Ritter, there are two main interpretations available, one strategic and one sincere. The strategic interpretation is that Ritter recognizes that a) he's in a tough reelection fight and b) the state is in a tight budget bind. He will need to raise taxes to balance the budget, but he'd rather not, since that would hurt his reelection chances. So now he can blame Lambert for an inability to raise taxes. Marostica probably would have agreed to raising them.

The sincere (and, in my estimation, more likely) interpretation is that Ritter just kinda liked Marostica and thought it would be good to have him in the executive branch, regardless of the consequences for legislation.

1 comment:

Robert said...

For the record, even if Seth is right and Ritter went for "b," i.e., appointed Marostica because he thought he would do a good job, it doesn't mean that he didn't consider "a." It also doesn't mean that he didn't think through that taking Marostica off of JBC would have the result it has had.

Getting away from all the double negatives in that last paragraph, all I mean to say is that Ritter isn't necessarily naive. It could be that he said, "Yeah, I know that a governor in my position would usually let personal political consequences or his judgement about the larger political fallout trump his evaluation of who is best for the job. But that is business-as-usual politics, and where has that gotten us? I'm just going to pick the person that I think is best for the job."