When newly-elected Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call laughably suggested on television a couple of weeks ago that Republicans had been some kind of great defenders of education funding in the state budget battle, rewriting months of copiously-documented history from every newspaper in the state, we feel pretty confident that Rep. Tom Massey, moderate Republican from Poncha Springs, groaned along with everybody else.
Today, though, if he’s smart, chairman Call is making arrangements to give Massey a ticker tape parade–being perhaps the only Republican in the state who can give Call a defense against the charge of brazenly lying. As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Patrick Malone reports:
Schools in Colorado were facing $250 million in cuts in fiscal year 2011-12 before Massey, R- Poncha Springs and chair of the House Education Committee, rummaged through the couch cushions of the state budget to soften the blow.
“School finance has been a difficult proposition as we’ve worked through it over the last month, to say the least,” Massey said. “We’ve all admitted that a $250 million cut to our institutions of public learning is particularly high and damaging to our small rural school districts in particular.”
He simply refused to accept those cuts…
Massey said he and House Democrats have been working to restore some of the lost funding to schools by negotiating with the governor’s office for at least two weeks with the blessing of House Republican leadership.
“Massey was working with (Democrats) and the governor’s staff on the final details (Wednesday) night in our office,” said House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo. “I’m proud that House Democrats were instrumental in getting this done.” [Pols emphasis]
…Massey’s fellow House Republicans, perceived in the earliest stages of negotiations as a potential obstacle to his plan, overwhelmingly supported it Thursday when it gained preliminary approval in the House, where its next step is a formal vote.
Folks, we’re not interested in denying credit to any legislator, Republican or Democrat, who voted for this plan to restore $90 million in cuts to education. Whether based on a genuine desire to ease the cuts, or mitigation of damage done from months of stories about impending teacher layoffs and cuts to school breakfasts, this was a very smart move for everybody–and welcome further relief for schools, from a situation that looked much worse just a few months ago. This is also not the first time that Rep. Massey has proven to be a go-to reasonable player in the Republican caucus. All of that is correctly noted for the record.
But it won’t totally wipe out memory of those politically masochistic GOP school breakfast cuts, tax credits for bull semen, needlessly revising revenue estimates down, holding the budget hostage over teacher retirement funds–or who Massey worked with to get the deal done, regardless of how his caucus voted. There’s also the intuitive simple truth: voters know which side wants more public education funding, and which side doesn’t. That framing, in case you’ve never heard Sen. Kent Lambert speak on the matter, is very well established.
But in simple CYA terms, Ryan Call has more to thank Massey for than he can ever admit.