Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pinnacol could be a hero

By the time I'm writing this, a House committee has approved the first of two measures sent it by the Senate that would lead to the transfer of $500 million in surplus assets of Pinnacol Assurance to balance the state budget.

And Gov. Bill Ritter has made it clear that $300 million in cuts to the state's institutions of higher education are unacceptable.

That's a good move on the governor's part; it signals to the legislature that lawmakers must come up with a way to make up the higher-education funding by re-writing the current budget as approved by the Senate, and leaves the raid on Pinnacol's assets as a viable way to do it.

There are other ways, and despite resistance of members of the Joint Budget Committee to considering elimination of tax exemptions to make up the money, or imposing salary reductions for state workers, the governor also has signaled those options are viable, too.

One way or another, Ritter, a good Democrat, has said the General Assembly should find a new way to balance the budget besides its traditional dumping of the chore on the backs of the state's college students and faculty. A state constitutional amendment now protects the backs of public-school students.

Pinnacol can afford to give up the money for the greater good. As a creation of the state, it would be nice to see the company figure out a way to help out.

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