Former state senator Mark Hillman should be Colorado’s next treasurer. Having held the post while current Treasurer Mike Coffman served in Iraq, Hillman knows what it takes to run the state’s finances.
The Burlington farmer advocates long-term strategic planning in the form of a rainy-day fund, wants to focus energy in rural economic development on the Eastern plains and in the San Luis Valley, and vows to reach out to Colorado’s young people to make them financially literate, so they can avoid common financial pitfalls and predatory lenders. Hillman promises to invest taxpayer money wisely and will ensure Colorado has the cash it needs to pay its bills.
Republican Hillman understands the economic realities of competing constitutional amendments that mandate certain spending, including Amendment 23, which requires that the base level of per-pupil school funding be increased by the inflation rate plus 1 percent each year through mid-2010.
Amendment 23, written by Hillman’s opponent, Denver Democrat Cary Kennedy, may stretch Colorado’s already tight budget too thin by mandating increases in K-12 funding each year, regardless of whether the state can afford it. Education funding did need attention, but it is possible that adjustments will have to be considered.
Kennedy is steadfast in her backing of the measure’s “ratcheting” effect, saying Colorado dug itself into such a deep hole in education that the state must commit to the Amendment 23 formula, regardless of other budget woes.
While Kennedy, who worked in Gov. Roy Romer’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting and was a fiscal analyst in the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, backs Amendment 23 without change, she thinks taxpayers should have better access to the state’s financial information. Kennedy was also instrumental in developing the voter-approved Referendum C.
Whoever is elected treasurer should publish the office’s annual report — something that hasn’t been done since 1999 — and also make available a summary of the state’s investment portfolio.