Despite the bitter wailing and gnashing of teeth from of axe-grinding liberals like Jim Spencer and Jason Bane (who attempt to masquerade as journalists for ColoradoPols.com and Colorado Confidential.com) the Post's editorial is spot on.
The piece attacks both the means and the ends of Ritter plan.
When Coloradans elected Bill Ritter as governor, they thought they were getting a modern-day version of Roy Romer, a pro-business Democrat. Instead, they got Jimmy Hoffa.
Ritter campaigned under the guise of a moderate "new Democrat" but now we know he's simply a toady to labor bosses and the old vestiges of his party — a bag man for unions and special interests.
The governor on Friday unveiled his plan to drive up the cost of doing business in Colorado by forcing collective bargaining on thousands of state employees.
We're concerned this may be the beginning of the end of Ritter as governor.
By pandering to unions, and the ever-shrinking 7.7 percent of the electorate that belong to unions, he's broken his "Colorado Promise" to voters. His promise to usher in a new era of collaborative government — where business and labor, Democrats and Republicans, would all be at the table — was nothing more than a sham.
It's unconscionable for the governor of a state that's limped through lean budget years to knowingly drive up the cost of government. And for what? Political payback to unions?
He's even doing an end-run on the legislature, controlled by his own party. Instead of introducing a bill in the legislature that could be debated and fine-tuned — the collaborative process he promised — Ritter junked what has worked for Colorado for decades with the flick of a pen. He didn't even have the guts to stand before the public and announce his plan. Instead, he sent out a press release late Friday afternoon when he hoped no one was looking.
It's government by fiat.
Ritter sailed into office with an unusual but strong coalition of business and labor backing his bid. But he has now corrupted that relationship with business, and the bulk of his agenda is at risk. He also has damaged his party, which enjoys power in Colorado partly because of that moderate face they painted for themselves in recent years.
Without business in his corner, we fear Ritter won't be able to effectively shepherd a comprehensive health care solution through the statehouse. And any plans he may have for a new revenue stream for higher education are dangling by a thread, too.
Perhaps more importantly, we're concerned he's lost whatever business support he had to reform Colorado's budget process. And that could very well doom his governorship. Gov. Bill Owens was able to pass Referendum C, which freed up money for five years from the state's tight revenue caps, because he had a strong coalition of business leaders helping to win support from GOP voters, who happen to be the largest block of Colorado voters.
Ritter will be rudderless if he tries to convince voters to approve an extension of Referendum C.
Experts say collective bargaining can add as much as 30 percent to the cost of doing business. Tell us, how does that make sense for a state that can hardly pay its bills and plans to come to voters as soon as 2009 with its hand out?
Ritter's two Democratic predecessors, Dick Lamm and Romer, were able to govern for 24 years, collectively, without introducing collective bargaining.
State employees are paid well, and treated well. In fact, by one estimate, they already earn 25 percent more than workers in surrounding states and their pay is 9 percent higher than the national average. We're ninth best in the country in paying our state employees, but not long ago we were 49th in the nation in K-12 spending as a percentage of personal income. Strange priorities, indeed.
Had Ritter thought employees were somehow getting a raw deal, he could have waved his magic wand and changed all that. He is the governor, after all. Instead, he's decided to prop up unions.
Now, he runs the risk of becoming Colorado's first one-term governor since Walter Johnson in 1950.
Coloradans bought the Colorado Promise, but may end up with a trail of broken promises.
A governor with such early promise has squandered his future in order to keep his backroom promises to a few union bosses.
And Colorado is the loser.
The Denver Post's editorial board operates independently of the paper's news coverage.