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Maybe Cary Kennedy Can Have It Both Ways; I Don’t Want to Be a Politician

State Treasurer Cary Kennedy seems like a nice lady, and I think it must be hard being a politician in such an office — especially during the tough budget times faced by state government and the difficult decisions that requires. But does the current budget reality mean Treasurer Kennedy can have it both ways?

As the Denver Post has reported, Governor Bill Ritter is asking K-12 schools to give up $260 million in expected funding between the current budget year and 2010-11 — despite Amendment 23’s constitutional requirement to guarantee annual increases in the core of state K-12 education funding.

As my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow has noted, the potential showdown between union-backed Ritter and the Colorado Education Association over the proposed cuts could make for “interesting times.”

For Treasurer Kennedy, who devised Amendment 23 but now in office stands by fellow Democrat Bill Ritter, the scenario presents an especially challenging dilemma. Ed News Colorado’s coverage of Kennedy’s Friday speech to the Colorado Association of School Boards at the luxury Broadmoor hotel (a good use of taxpayer funds itself?) really captures the challenge she faces:

“I want to set the record straight,” Kennedy said, referring to questions about where she stands on Ritter’s cuts.

“I don’t believe the state can make these cuts without violating Amendment 23,” she added, to the applause of some 1,000 people in a Broadmoor Hotel ballroom.

But wait, there was more.

“I respect the work the governor and the General Assembly are doing to balance the budget. … There are some new realities in the budget, and these proposals came forth because they had to.”

Huh? Which is it? The cuts violate Amendment 23, or they have to be made? Or maybe Cary Kennedy is saying Amendment 23 has to be violated? Isn’t the state constitution supposed to be a really important document that shouldn’t just be ignored?

Being only 5 years old, I can’t make much sense out of all this, except for one thing: Momma, please don’t let me grow up to be a politician….