January 21 2010, 9:50 AM
Though business leaders and a special committee rejected the idea several months ago, Governor Bill Ritter's office continues to look into the possibility of privatizing Pinnacol Assurance, the state's workers' compensation fund. While there are questions about the legality of such an endeavor, it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars into Colorado's budget, which is facing a shortfall of at least $1.3 billion for the fiscal year that starts on July 1, writes The Denver Post. "We've been talking to Pinnacol for a long time, informally, really since last session," confirms Trey Rogers, Ritter's chief legal counsel, adding that there have been talks with financial-services firm J.P. Morgan about appraising the insurer. Pinnacol provides worker's compensation to firms that otherwise cannot get insured; theoretically, any deal would require that it remain the insurer of last resort. State Senator Morgan Carroll (pictured), an Aurora Democrat, characterizes the governor's talks as secretive: "Something stinks about this when you can't bring your proposal before the public." Tax-exempt Pinnacol effectively operates as a private business, and its board is opposing several bills in the Legislature, according to the Denver Business Journal.