After yesterday's story by the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby about the death in a GOP-controlled Senate committee of a bill to provide relief to rural communities impacted by layoffs, that paper's editorial board weighed in this morning with a blistering editorial against the chair of the committee responsible: Republican Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction.
Scott, a Republican representing Mesa County, denied that politics was involved. Yet, he turned his back on rural Colorado despite support from Colorado Counties Inc., the Colorado Municipal League, the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado and the state Department of Local Affairs. Representatives of these organizations all testified before Scott’s committee in favor of the bill…
If this wasn’t a purely political move to thwart passage of a Democratic bill, Scott offered little in the way of an alternative interpretation. After the 3-2 vote, Scott said the bill would cost too much, but then added it didn’t go far enough in helping more of rural Colorado. He said the bill needed an amendment to use severance tax money to pay for it, then failed to exercise his power as chairman to offer that amendment himself.
It's important to keep in mind that the Sentinel endorsed Scott in his Senate race last year, meaning this isn't some kind of knee-jerk liberal tantrum. The fact is, it's very difficult to reconcile voting to kill the Rural Economic Emergency Assistance Grant Program bill with the constant refrain from Colorado Republicans, including Sen. Scott, that Democrats have "turned their backs" on rural Colorado.
This mealy-mouthed double talk is insulting. If you’re going to kill a bill that would have helped our neighbors in Delta County, you better be prepared to explain why. For a lawmaker who has long railed against the governor for ignoring the plight of rural Colorado, the hypocrisy is galling.
The lack of minced words tells us this was a serious misstep by Scott, most likely for the shallow purpose of denying freshman Democratic Sen. Kerry Donovan a win for her constituents–and it's going to have lasting consequences for Scott's credibility with the Sentinel's editorial board. At the very least, it will be harder for Scott to make his boilerplate case about Front Range Democrats telling the Western Slope to eat cake.
Because this time, that was him.