Under the Dome: On the road again | CraigDailyPress.com

Under the Dome: On the road again

Bob Rankin/For Craig Press

Bob Rankin

We wore out the tires on our car last month. That's either a testament to how well Joyce and I do our jobs of reaching out to Western Colorado or the result of CDOT not having enough money to fix the potholes. For those of you not well versed in government acronyms, CDOT is the "underfunded" (to the tune of 9 billion dollars) Colorado Department of Transportation. Look for a lot of discussion and perhaps a ballot measure next year to fund our roads.

Joyce was out getting new tires installed in Grand Junction while I sat in on the Club 20 executive session. The Club 20 fall meeting and the steak fry the night before always draw a crowd of Western Slope politicians and active citizenry to discuss and take positions on important issues, such as economic development and energy. I've been a member for years and respect the opinions of the representatives from 20 western counties. We are always joined by elected officials and candidates from the Front Range, so it's also a fun time for handshakes and back slaps. The highlight of the meeting was to hear from U.S. Rep Scott Tipton and U.S. Sen. Gardner about the big issues being addressed in Washington. I'll take Denver any day.

After the tragic explosion in Firestone, there's a lot of concern about abandoned or unmapped oil or gas pipelines and well sites. State Sen. Ray Scott and I have submitted a letter to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requesting detail on the number and costs of plugging these wells and reclaiming the sites.

I serve on the boards of the Colorado Tourism Office and the State Internet Portal Authority, both critical to western interests. I'm looking forward to the upcoming yearly planning sessions for both.

The Joint Budget Committee, my day job, will be gearing up for another balancing act soon. We get a new forecast this month and the governor's budget recommendation Nov. 1. Then, we start to review the departments in detail.

By March, all six of us will be exhausted and even more unpopular, but we will have a budget. I'm sure Medicaid will continue to grow faster than revenue, and we have to deal with the uncertainty of health care reform from the federal government. We'll face demands for more funding for schools and transportation. The prison population has started grow, so we need to reopen a facility. And, the state fair still loses money. They tell me it's simply a matter of priorities.

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But, we still have a month of travel, conferences and meetings, so those new tires will get a good workout before they get parked in the garage at our little apartment in Denver and we walk through the snow to the capitol every day.

State Rep. Bob Rankin represents District 57, which includes Moffat, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, in the Colorado House of Representatives.