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Nick Wakeman

Budget expert Stan Collender dies at 68

Stan Collender, affectionately known as the Budget Guy, died May 3 at age 68. He had battled cancer for several years.

Collender was a go-to-person for many journalists looking for budget insights. And of course, he had his regular columns in the Forbes and USA Today. His @thebudgetguy blog was a regular stop for many as well. USA Today wrote a nice tribute about him and how one of his budget columns was the fourth most read column of 2018. And he was often quoted in other publications from Washington Technology to the Washington Post.

One of the things I appreciated about Collender was that no question was too dumb. I was struggling with explaining the difference between an authorization and appropriation. I shot him an email to confirm or debunk my position that authorizations meant little because they didn’t appropriate any money.

Within minutes, he called me. He said I had a point but that I pushed it too far. He explained that you need the authorization to set the parameters for an appropriation. It’s kind of chicken and egg thing. You need both.

Since then I’ve paid more attention to authorizations but I have to admit they still nag at me a bit.

As good a writer as he was, Collender also was a great speaker and could tell stories that put you in the hearing room and the back channels where he so often navigated.

He had his biases of course and didn’t shy from admitting he was a Democrat, but he never failed to give the other side its due when it was deserved. Unfortunately, from his perspective, there isn’t much due to give the other side these past few years.

In addition to his work on Senate and House budget committees, he also was part of Qorvis Communications, where he was a partner in the public affairs and public relations firm.

According to the USA Today tribute, Collender’s family has asked that memorial donations be made to the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, where he served as an adjunct professor

Posted by Nick Wakeman on May 06, 2019 at 12:50 PM


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