Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR) continues to create economic impact studies separating facts from fiction. CSPR’s goal is to be the go-to fiscal policy think tank for Colorado’s economic future. Where appropriate, CSPR is, and will be, the objective and factual resource Colorado’s citizens and public policy makers can look to when considering important economic issues influencing Colorado’s economy today and in the future.
In 2014, CSPR was tasked to provide information in a major economic public policy debate facing the state – hydraulic fracturing. Public policy discussions ranged from a complete statewide fracking ban to various drilling setback scenarios. Our charge was to present reliable economic research about the potential changes in Colorado’s energy policies. The facts and figures we provided using the REMI dynamic econometric model became the centrally cited data used in the debate.
The information used astonished seasoned researchers and media outlets by illustrating the integrated financial impact the energy industry has on Colorado’s economy including; the state’s overall employment and real estate values; the state budget; and local school district finances. We’ve included in this annual report additional highlights showcasing ourwork on this important topic, and I strongly encourage you to read the exhaustive report we produced with our research partners at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business.
This leads us to another major 2014 success for CSPR. We have vastly broadened public awareness of our research and studies. The annual report shows how our Facebook site, website and public reports are becoming used by a broad range of Coloradans. We are particularly pleased to see the diversity of users on our sites. In addition, we are excited to watch our mission materialize as national, regional and local news medias are quoting our research.
As we look at 2015 and beyond Colorado’s fracking debate, we are heading for a possible financial crisis in our state budget. Two potential concerns CSPR is poised to provide insight into include: 1) Rapidly increasing Medicaid expenses as Colorado’s population ages and 2) a pension deficit in PERA. Others have documented the budgetary issues associated with our state’s aging population. However, no one has provided thoughtful options regarding revenue sources and possible budget alternatives that will continue to support job growth and expand our economy. This is a tough challenge to tackle, but with our REMI research modeling capabilities and strategic partnerships, CSPR is ready to take the lead.
We are also prepared to provide objective analysis to address the PERA issue. Many have pointed out the huge pension deficit of $29B in PERA. Putting this in perspective, PERA’s deficit equals more than the Governor’s proposed state budget for 2015 of $24.1B. Broader public support will be needed to resolve this matter; however, CSPR is ready to help put a spotlight on this issue, and will continue looking at alternatives and examples from other states to help find a resolution.
Earl L. Wright
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