Coalition Forms To Bring Better Impact Analysis To Public Policy

July 17, 2013
ECON 101:  A

ECON 101: A non-partisan group of organizations wants to provide the public with more information about the real-world impacts of policy changes

DENVER – As supporters and critics of a controversial $1 billion tax hike prepare to square off, a non-partisan group of influential public and private organizations announced an effort that may help policymakers and voters better understand the real-world impacts of such changes in public policy.

The group, which is composed of the Common Sense Policy Roundtable (CSPR), the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation, and the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business, unveiled an economic modeling program Tuesday that they say will provide unbiased information about the economic effects of changes in things like spending levels and tax rates.

The econometric model comes from Regional Economic Modeling Inc. (REMI), and the partnership says it will provide policy makers a much more substantive view on the impact of legislation.

“Colorado is facing many significant issues that will undoubtedly have substantial impacts on jobs and our economy,” said CSPR’s Earl Wright, which released its own analysis of a proposed tax hike in 2011.  “REMI will provide us with accurate analysis and long-term economic impacts of these actions and the data we need to make informed decisions.”

For years, critics have complained about a failure by policymakers to measure the “dynamic” effects of statutory changes on the economy.  Currently, lawmakers can only gauge the costs of proposed changes through a so-called “Fiscal Note,” which only sets forth how many public dollars a specific bill might generate or expend – without examining a proposal’s broader impacts on things like job creation, for example.

That’s something the group is hoping REMI will change.

“The REMI model has the ability to analyze complex economic questions by considering thousands of variables in response to policy changes as opposed to traditional econometric models that take only input/output into account,” read a statement from the group.

The dynamic econometric modeling will be overseen by representatives of each of the four groups, who say they are optimistic about the opportunity to provide policymakers and the public with a more comprehensive “big picture” look at changes in the law.

“The REMI model will aid Colorado decision makers in debating and weighing the impacts of the largest public policy decisions facing our state,” said Tom Clark of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation. “REMI will allow us to weigh the full impacts of legislation, ballot initiatives and other projects on Colorado’s economy. It will be a valuable tool for our state.”

According to the group, the first proposal analyzed by the new model will be Initiative 22, a $1 billion tax hike plan that voters may be asked to decide on in November.  The report is expected in August.

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