House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino rates the passage of bills that have supported small businesses as the most significant ‘hallmark’ action of the Democratic caucus during the 2012 legislative session. Bills which have been proposed by the Democratic caucus to support job growth, but have failed, he rates as his greatest disappointment.
In an interview with Catherine Strode, Coordinator of the Health Care Advocacy Program, Minority Leader Ferrandino discussed his personal accomplishments and goals of the 2012 session. What does he consider as his greatest personal accomplishment of the session: state personnel reform. What is his greatest goal: passage of a bill to support Civil Unions.
What do you view as your greatest success of the 2012 session?
“You know getting a budget to pass 64 to 1 is a huge success for both parties. I think that’s a significant success. I think sticking on the message of jobs and the economy and the bills that we’ve pushed forward to help small businesses, to help entrepreneurs, really has been a strong hallmark of the Democratic caucus in the House. Some of those bills are still alive, some of them have passed and become law, and we’re still working with Republicans to try and find common ground on those. On a personal issue, I’ve worked hard on the personnel reform that the governor was pushing. That’s the bill that I’ve spent hours negotiating with both state workers and department heads to try and come to a good balance. I think we have that balance and it passed the House unanimously and just passed the Senate unanimously and it’s coming back to the House for consideration. I think that will be a significant piece of legislation. You know one thing that I’m just, personally, very hopeful for, it’s still in the process but, is civil unions. It’s going to be an uphill battle but if we can get that passed – that will be a significant victory for Colorado.”
And what’s your greatest disappointment so far?
“I think a lot of the jobs agenda that we’ve been pushing. Some of the things like (Representative) Max Tyler’s investment in small business development centers. (Representative) Dave Young’s tech transfer incentives, (Representative) John Kefalas’ angel investors. All those don’t seem as of right now that they’ll be moving forward and those are good, smart job creations with proven incentives, and investments. And, so unfortunately, we weren’t able to find bipartisan support for some of those. Maybe it will change in the next couple of weeks because some of them are still alive. I think some of my disappointment has been around places where we all agree we need to focus on job creation but we weren’t able to come together – Democrats and Republicans – to compromise and find the right vehicle to get those smart investments done for our economy and investments. And, so unfortunately, we weren’t able to find bipartisan support for some of those. Maybe it will change in the next couple of weeks because some of them are still alive. I think some of my disappointment has been around places where we all agree we need to focus on job creation but we weren’t able to come together – Democrats and Republicans – to compromise and find the right vehicle to get those smart investments done for our economy.”
What do you think are the most significant pieces of health care legislation to come out of the 2012 session?
“Representative Young and now Representative Gerou have a bill, 1281 on Medicaid Payment reform, which I’ve been involved with, on a pilot program and then opening it up to looking at global payment methods, and paying for performance, and outcomes versus fee for service. It could have a significant change in the way we deal with health care in the public sector. So I think that’s the most significant. I think that it has a very good chance of becoming law this year. Outside of that, I think the budget is always a significant health care bill because it deals with a lot of the funding for health care. Not having to cut provider rates at all this year, helping to put some more money into DD slots, some of those things I think were good in health care.”
And what is your opinion of the health care Long Term Services Relocation bill being proposed?
“When I was on the budget committee, I spent a lot of time raising concerns about how the Department of Human Services was managing the finances of the DD line items. And so I was pushing for people to look at should we move this to HCPF – given that a lot of the funding comes from HCPF because it goes through Medicaid. HCPF is a Department that’s much better at handling money – they’re kind of like an insurance company – where the Human Services is more of a service provider. So it might make sense to move more of the controls and financing to HCPF. That being said, there a lot of concerns that have been raised– what is this going to do to people with developmental disabilities? Are we going to make sure at the end of the day we’re not harming that population? And that’s the biggest key. I don’t think anyone wants to have a negative impact on that population. So we have to be very careful and diligent. The question is – is this the right way to do it? My hope is that they do it in a deliberate, systematic way that builds upon community input to try and do it. And if it moves forward – keep an open door through the process – to make sure that community concerns are addressed as both the bill moves forward and if the bill passes – then as the transition actually happens.”