Wake-Up Call: Insuring the future

Pinnacol Assurance gets a glowing endorsement in today's Denver Post from former Governor Bill Owens, who notes that "in 2002, I signed a law requiring Pinnacol Assurance to operate like a business, meaning its liabilities would not be the state's responsibility, while its assets were specifically protected from seizure by the state."

But as we've seen, operating "like a business" is no guarantee against monkey business. And Pinnacol, which Colorado law set up as "a political subdivision of the state" to provide worker's compensation insurance for Colorado companies, doesn't pay state income taxes and has a board appointed by the governor -- which is not exactly business as usual. Even some of the people Pinnacol was designed to help have no love for the company, as this 2003 Westword story reported. In fact, they said, Pinnacol's policies added insult to their injuries.

The legislature is now looking at Pinnacol's assets as a potential tool for shoring up the state's budget. If there's a possibility that the profits accrued by this far-from-private enterprise could insure a future for many Colorado programs, including higher education, the proposal merits serious discussion.

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