By Jody Hope Strogoff
THE COLORADO STATESMAN
While supporters of Republican Scott McInnis may have felt all warm and fuzzy about their newly introduced unity pact and “Platform for Prosperity,” Gov. Bill Ritter wasted no time in slapping it cold.
Standing in front of the state Capitol Monday night with a blustery wind at his back, Ritter iced both the platform and its messengers at the hastily called news conference. It was the second night in a row in which Ritter had assembled the political press corps to publicly lambast his likely opponent in the 2010 race, indicating the apparent seriousness with which he takes his reelection campaign.
“Congressman McInnis today, I think, wrapped his arms around a manifesto that at the very least is a decade and a half old,” said Ritter.
“It’s important for us to understand the difference between our moving forward and a group of people unifying a party and deciding not to have a primary — and signing off on a bunch of things that were part of an agenda 15 years ago,” Ritter added.
“The fact of the matter is that we, as a party, have this vision,” Ritter continued. “This vision is about the people in this state and how we move it forward.”
Earlier, McInnis accused Ritter of passing the buck on many of the state’s looming problems, challenging the Democratic officeholder to accept responsibility.
“When it comes to balancing the budget, (the buck) absolutely stops at the governor’s office,” Ritter conceded.
“We had to do a lot of things, quite frankly, that were politically difficult choices but they were the right choices to make to strike this balance.”
Asked by reporters about some of the planks in the Platform for Prosperity which focus, for example, on respecting the TABOR amendment, reinstating the spending cap that was overturned this past session, and overriding some of the regulations and new fees that were implemented earlier this year, Ritter held his ground.
“I believe ‘backwards’ is the operative word there,” Ritter stated.
“I haven’t actually seen the platform or the manifesto, but it is about backwards,” Ritter declared. “From every press account that I’ve seen, it’s about undoing things as opposed to this vision about where we’re going to go.”
“For my purposes, I’ve said again and again, I’m not going to have somebody die on a bridge in Colorado because people were not willing to do something that was important to this state, like passing transportation funding that’s sustained funding for the first time since 1991,” the governor said.
Ritter also reminded that Colorado has a spending cap and some of the promises in the GOP-inspired Platform may not be lawful.
“In Senate Bill 228, we went from 6 percent of revenue to 5 percent of personal income, so we have a cap in place,” Ritter said.
“Interestingly, what we did was put in place, under that 5 percent cap, new money for transportation in addition to the transport bill, and new money for the rainy day savings. It sounds like in some respects they (the Republicans) are taking a page out of our playbook.”
“It is important as a state that we understand we have big challenges and we’re going to come through this, we believe, stronger and healthier,” Ritter emphasized.
“But not because it’s some default strategy, it’s because we’re executing a strategy that makes a difference to the people of the state.”