Colorado lawmakers get look at budget cuts | AspenTimes.com
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Colorado lawmakers get look at budget cuts

Colleen Slevin
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” State lawmakers are getting their first look at millions of dollars in recommended budget cuts for next year after the introduction of the annual budget bill on Monday.

The Joint Budget Committee has recommended more than $700 million in cuts, transfers and accounting moves for the fiscal year that begins in July to make up for an expected decline in tax revenue because of the recession.

State colleges and universities stand to lose $300 million, but some lawmakers want to reverse that cut by taking $500 million from the surplus accumulated by Pinnacol Assurance, the state-created workers’ compensation insurance company.



The Senate Appropriations Committee was expected to hold hearings on the budget package later Monday. Other senators are set to begin budget discussions Tuesday and vote on the package later this week before sending it to the House.

All recommended changes, such as the controversial plan to take Pinnacol’s surplus, must be approved by the full Legislature.




One of the budget balancing proposals would eliminate the fee that retailers now get to keep for collecting state sales tax. That will give the state $31 million.

The plan would also divert fees from driver’s licenses that now are used to pay for highways. The state would instead take those fees to help pay for operating driver’s license offices.

That raises the possibility that lawmakers will have to come up with a new way to make up for the money lost to transportation, such as by raising fees for drivers.

Lawmakers are considering the cuts and transfers because legislative economists predict a deeper and longer recession in Colorado than originally expected. State tax revenue is expected to drop a total of $900 million between this year and next, according to a forecast by legislative economists released last month.

Lawmakers are also preparing in case their next economic forecast in June is even worse.

About $200 million of the $500 million lawmakers are considering taking from Pinnacol would be put in a reserve fund to plug any additional holes if revenues are forecast to drop off even more. If not, the money could also be used to reverse some of the cuts lawmakers are now considering.


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