September 18, 2007

Oh, my former state, what happened?

Oh right, Grover Norquist happened. Yeah, the man who wants to shrink government to the point of disuse, has nearly done that in the state of Colorado, where despite relative wealth, they have fallen in some key issues of taking care of people and educating their future.
One of the chapters in The Conservatives Have No Clothes: Why Right-Wing Ideas Keep Failing tells the story of what happened in Colorado under TABOR. The bottom line is pretty straightforward. By virtually every ranking imaginable related to government performance, the state with the tenth highest median household income plummeted to the very bottom of the pack, competing with Mississippi and other poor southern states for last place. With respect to health care, TABOR caused Colorado drop below at least 45 other states in the share of low-income residents covered by Medicaid, the portion of low-income children lacking health care coverage, and the percentage of low-income adults under 65 without health insurance. Colorado’s national ranking in access to prenatal care declined from twenty-third in 1990 to forty-eighth in 2004.

How about education? Classroom sizes in Colorado escalated primarily because of TABOR so that student-teacher ratios in Colorado – one of the most prosperous states in the country – were worse than in all but eight states. The ratio of teacher salaries to average private sector earnings is lower in Colorado than in any other state. As for higher education, total state support to colleges and universities grew at the second lowest rate in the nation, so that now Colorado ranks forty-eighth for state higher education funding as a share of personal income.
Damn Norquist and his entire bunch of anti-government freaks. Government isn't magical, but it is one of the ways we live to gether as a people.

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