Colorado legislature passes resolution requesting that Congress pass defense appropriations bill first.
WASHINGTON – Last week, both houses of Colorado\’s legislature passed resolutions requesting that Congress gives first priority to the federal defense appropriations bill before any other appropriations bill. The Colorado House passed the first resolution on Feb. 21st, and the Senate passed its version on Feb. 25th.
For the first time in modern history, the 107th Congress passed the defense appropriations bill first, before considering all other spending legislation. Members of Congress gave priority to defense and national security spending due to the War on Terrorism and the impending conflict in the Middle East. Yet, defense spending rarely received such priority and was, in fact, always left to last during the appropriations cycle.
When defense spending is left until the end of the year, the money dries up, adequate funding is not received, and national security is short-changed. "It\’s kind of like the new Krispy Kreme store in town," quips Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, "the guy who is last in line doesn\’t get his donuts – he just gets the crumbs." Not only is defense funding shortchanged, much of the appropriations bill is loaded up with pet-projects and pork-barrel spending, which puts conservative, pro-defense advocates at a disadvantage: they do not want to approve the pork spending, but must vote for the defense bill before the money runs out.
The defense issue is particularly important in Colorado. The state receives $1,408 per capita of federal monies for defense spending within the state, or 3.3% of the state\’s gross state product (the 7th highest rate of defense spending in the country). As of FY 99, Colorado taxpayers sent $5,923 per capita to Washington, but received only $5,303 back – a $620 difference not in favor of Colorado taxpayers. "Colorado disproportionately benefits from increased defense spending," continued Norquist, "and now that defense spending is down in the state, Colorado tax dollars are being sent everywhere except Colorado."
"Colorado\’s House and Senate leadership showed bold leadership in passing this resolution," continued Norquist, "and it\’s now up to Colorado\’s U.S. Senators and Congressman to determine what is more important for their constituents: pork-barrel spending in other states or spending money on an industry that accounts for 3.3% of the Colorado\’s economy."