Colorado lawmakers outline plans to create jobs
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER ” Lawmakers are hoping a state-level transportation package will put tens of thousands of Coloradans to work in construction-related industries, providing raw materials, maintenance and engineering.
The plan is at the top of the list of their agenda for the 120-day legislative session that begins Wednesday.
Senate President Peter Groff, D-Denver, said the benefits of increased funding for transportation would ripple across the state, creating jobs for people who would support the workers on new highway and bridge projects.
House Speaker Terrance Carroll, D-Denver, said studies show a 10-fold increase for every dollar spent on transportation.
“This is an opportunity to create new jobs and sustain jobs,” Carroll said.
Legislative leaders said a lot depends on funding from Congress that won’t be appropriated until after President-elect Barack Obama takes office.
Colorado has already identified dozens of projects that are ready to go if Congress wants to jump-start the economy, but some of those projects could be in jeopardy if Congress decides more money should go to states where the need is greater.
Democratic leaders in Congress are expected to take up a plan to increase transportation funding to states on Monday.
House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, said he expects a bill to be introduced that would clamp down on exorbitant interest charged on payday loans, but other lawmakers are leery of hurting people who may need loans during rough economic times.
Weissmann warned that lawmakers may have to cut back on promises that were made in better economic times, including more funding for the developmentally disabled, preschool classes and higher education. He said the goal is to avoid cutting off vital services that are needed for suffering families.
“Our job is to make sure that people who need the government the most aren’t harmed by those cuts,” Weissmann said.
Groff said lawmakers have been through this before, with much larger budget cuts in 2003. He said the state is now looking at a smaller shortfall of about $600 million and lawmakers can meet the challenge.
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