Colorado lawmakers face spending standoff |

Colorado lawmakers face spending standoff

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers promised to work together to cut spending this year.

They didn’t make it through January.

The Colorado Legislature neared a stalemate Monday on how much Colorado should plan to spend next fiscal year. The Republican House wants to ratchet back a projection from state economists that Colorado could take in almost $7.1 billion. Republicans say it would be prudent to cut that estimate further, by about $195 million, to make sure the state doesn’t run out of money next year.

But the Democratic-controlled Senate balked, saying the $7.1 billion estimate is already a conservative guess of how much the state will take in. The Senate voted 20-15, on a straight party-line vote, not to ratchet back the spending resolution.

Both parties accuse the other of posturing and not being serious about how to cut spending.

The GOP argues that even though the $7.1 billion estimate may be a conservative guess, the economy has been so rocky that it would make sense to lower it even further.

“Plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said Republican Sen. Greg Brophy of Wray.

Democrats retort that Republicans simply want to show they’re fiscal hard-liners. Democrats point out that the spending resolution is merely a suggestion and the lowered figure wouldn’t force the budget-writing Joint Budget Committee to cut spending.

Senate Democratic Leader John Morse accused the GOP of showboating on spending. Morse argued that to make up the $195 million, budget-writers would have to lay off 3,200 schoolteachers, possibly unnecessarily.

“We are willing to make the cuts that need to be made,” Morse said of the Democrats. “To say, ‘We’re going to arbitrarily budget to a lower number’ makes no sense.”

Because the spending resolution is merely a suggestion, it was not immediately clear what would happen if the House and Senate are unable to agree on a single spending suggestion.

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