Dr. Mark Finney
The Paw Print
I received a call last weekend from a representative of the Colorado Firefighter’s Charitable Foundation who asked me for a donation. He explained that the FFCF assists the families of firefighters who are injured on the job, assists the victims of fires and helps pay firefighters’ medical bills when they are injured. I’ve received similar calls from the Colorado Police Charitable Foundation.
I gave the FFCF a donation, but after hanging up, I was struck with a bad feeling; something did not feel right. I realized that I give firefighters contributions every year via my taxes and – I won’t write that I was confused – but I was bewildered by the idea that firefighters were on the phone, asking for more money.
Not only were the firefighters asking for money, they were asking for funds to help firefighers and their families in cases of on-the-job accidents. Call me crazy, but I always assumed that firefighters’ salaries, benefits and insurance paid for these things. I certainly expect that firefighters and their families would be secure when one is injured on the job and that insurance, public assistance and other things were available to help the victims of fires.
I thought then about my contributions to public television and public radio. As a professor of mass communication, I understand that in the United States public media is set up in an inefficient, decentralized way that was designed to prevent public media from competing with corporations. This is why we have to suffer through weeks of pledge drives when we really just want to hear/see the news. Our public media really does need us because they are not funded sufficiently to operate in the way that they must.
But firefighters? Really? Are we so strapped for cash that we can’t help firefighters and their families? Are we so depraved that we’re unwilling to find funds for the victims of devistating fires? This is when it hit me – Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101 would only make things worse. Taxes are a necessary evil. They keep our roads paved, pay for parks, streetlights and, yes, firefighters and police. Yeah, its no fun to have to pay taxes. I too look at my paycheck and whine about how much is being taken out each month but folks, there’s a reason why we have libraries and why police, fire and ambulance show up when you call 911. The reason is taxes; there’s just no way around it.
Even former Govornor Bill Owens, a self professed “strong fiscal conservative” who showed us just how fiscally conservative he was during his 8 year tenure as govornor, is against these measures. In an editorial in Sunday’s Denver Post, he made an argument against the propositions stating, among other things, that “by taking a hatchet to state revenues, these ballot measures would cause an incredible 92 percent of the state’s general fund to be used for one purpose: to backfill K-12 education funding. Only 8 percent of the general fund would remain for higher education, health care, prisons, agriculture and public safety — the most basic state services.”
When a fiscal conservative like Owens argues that a budget policy “[sets] back our state’s progress by decades” it is time to reconsider. Sure, you may want to stop funding things like libraries, needle-exchanges, welfare, medicare or some other high-minded, liberal social policy, but these three bills will dramatically and negatively affect our firefighters, our police and, almost certainly Adams State College.