2015 Annual ReportDear CSPR Supporters and Stakeholders,
Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR) has just completed its 5th year! The goal to be the go-to-fiscal policy think tank for Colorado’s economic future is coming to fruition, and at the end of our 5th year our directors and staff all feel a strong sense of accomplishment. At the same time, we are all catching our breath from all the work we have done. Our mission of assessing public policy issues that would impact Colorado’s jobs and the economy has had a laser focus and has been impactful.

In 2015, we were asked to weigh-in and suggest a reasonable common ground for educational outcome measures, which did not over burden our educators, but still kept the system accountable for those outcomes. Quite simply, increasing graduation rates and student proficiency must occur if we are to meet the growing sophistication of the Colorado job market. Having an overabundance of tests is not the answer. Coordination of these tests is.

On another issue, PERA’s huge actuarial deficit continues to confront our states fiscal future. Conflict of interest dominates the PERA Board of Directors. It is self-serving to the detriment of the Colorado citizens. In 2015, we were asked to comment on a suggestion to burden PERA with a bond offering, whose proceeds would be invested to help close some of its actuarial gap. The math worked in a certain financial world, but that is not reality and again this suggestion avoided the real answer – the system needs revamping to reflect the real marketplace.

CSPR also received a request that has really challenged us, and we are still formatting an approach to this “must answer question.” CSPR was asked, “Considering the growth of Colorado and its budgetary needs what is the most effective tax structure to support the
growth of our jobs and economy?”

Another issue that fits the REMI econometric model of Colorado is the Colorado Minimum Wage Increase study, which CSPR began working on in 4th quarter of 2015. Initial indications are interesting, which we look forward to sharing in 2016.

CSPR continued our charge to present reliable economic research on one of the most important current economic issues facing the state, which are the fracking regulation challenges facing Colorado’s energy industry. To help understand the significance of lower oil prices on the state budget we did an assessment of this on the state budget. Our REMI modeling suggested the state would lose as much as $200MM in severance tax revenues over a three year period. In addition, local school districts and communities would lose tax dollars. The continuation of low oil prices will present a problem for our state budget.

Probably the most relevant REMI study we conducted in 2015 was our updated fracking setback study, which was a sensitivity analysis of various proposed setbacks. This is a must read report that can be found on our website: www.CommonSensePolicyRoundtable.com. If 2,000 foot setbacks were enacted, the energy industry would likely be decimated. Thousands of jobs, hundreds of companies and over time billions in local and state revenues would be lost. Our mission is to not judge the consequences but present the impact as best we can.

I am also proud to welcome the addition of Charlie McNeil and Heidi Ganahl to our Board. Both are exceptional in their own right and terrific in their insight on the issues our state faces. As we begin 2016, we look forward to continuing to provide unbiased insights on the relevant issues facing Colorado. During our five year evolution we have become that go-to source which is evident in the expanding list of requests from many of our public officials, industry groups and Colorado voters.

Thank you for your continual support and interest in Common Sense Policy Roundtable.

Earl L. Wright
Chairman of Board

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