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GUEST COLUMN: Colorado lawmakers model bipartisan compromise

By: Greg Raymond
June 7, 2017 Updated: June 7, 2017 at 8:36 am
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Our Colorado Springs community relies on strong schools, strong health care institutions and strong infrastructure.

This legislative session, investments and funding for these critical components were threatened, and it took extensive teamwork and leadership to save our community from what would have been a detrimental loss.

On Tuesday, May 30, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a solution into law, in the form of Senate Bill 267, which saves Colorado hospitals from $528 million in planned cuts.

The bill earned strong bipartisan support in the Senate and the House, as well as from rural and urban lawmakers. In addition to making proposed health care cuts unnecessary by moving the Hospital Provider Fee into a separate enterprise fund, SB-267 will also help fund key education and transportation investments, all without raising taxes.

The failure of SB-267 would have affected hospitals across the state, including Children's Hospital Colorado, causing some rural hospitals to close and many patients to lose access to care. Furthermore, it would have disrupted the state general fund and led to continued budget crisis.

Although the bill is not perfect, we are proud of the compromises and tireless negotiations that took place to pass this bill and save communities like ours from massive cuts.

At Children's Colorado in Colorado Springs, not only are we grateful that we can continue providing high-quality care to kids close to home and expanding our tele-health network, but we are excited that this bill allows for larger investments in roads and infrastructure that our community desperately needs.

Although these investments don't solve all our state's long-term transportation woes, SB-267 is a step in the right direction that we hope smooths the path for a larger transportation agreement next year.

The bipartisan bill sponsors - Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg and Lucia Guzman and Reps. KC Becker and Jon Becker - exemplified the tenacity it takes to come together to create a solution that is in the best interest of their constituents.

Other leaders who were critical to SB-267's success include Colorado Springs legislators Bob Gardner, Tony Exum, Pete Lee, Larry Liston and Mike Merrifield, who supported a bill they knew would be beneficial to our community. We appreciate that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognized the greater good within the bill and helped get it across the finish line.

Other crucial community supporters include our mayor, John Suthers, and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who have demonstrated steadfast support for reclassifying the Hospital Provider Fee.

Both leaders have made their views clear that reclassification of the program under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights is constitutional and proper.

Our community and our state are better for the leadership it took to pass SB-267, and we appreciate the commitment it took to accomplish this challenge. We look forward to the other great successes our state can achieve when leaders come together, from both sides of the aisle, to do what's best for the areas they represent.

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Greg Raymond is regional vice president of Southern Colorado, Children's Hospital Colorado, the region's first pediatric-only hospital in southern Colorado.

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