#Coleg Notebook: Dr. Chaps gets results; hello budget
Dr. Chaps gets results
Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt has been all over the headlines (and the subject of Mike Littwin’s most recent column), for saying that the feticide in Longmont earlier this month “is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb.”
The Colorado Springs Republican was roundly criticized for his remarks not just by liberals but also by conservatives and members of his own caucus, who scolded him on the House floor today.
— Colorado Statesman (@ColoStatesman) March 27, 2015
And yet, in a certain way Klingenschmitt’s antics appear to be yielding results. In the same episode of his televangelist series “Pray in Jesus Name,” Klingenschmitt called for legislative action on the issue of fetal homicide in spite of the fact that the legislature passed a bill against the “unlawful termination of a pregnancy” in 2013, punishable by up to 23 years in prison. However, the measure did not create a murder charge, in part to protect women’s reproductive rights.
After months of work, the Joint Budget Committee today released the state budget bill, also known as the “long bill” because it’s both long and takes a long time to debate and pass. This, the only bill lawmakers are constitutionally mandated to approve, will guide the state’s spending next fiscal year and shape lawmakers’ debates in the days and weeks to come as they fight over the $5 million in new spending allotted to each chamber. Here are a few highlights from the $26 billion budget:
– Higher education could see a $264 million boost, bringing total spending in that sector up almost $4 billion. While that’s a significant chunk of state dollars, JBC members tell us it’s only enough to slow the growth of tuition costs, not freeze them.
– $25 million is slated to be spent buying down the debt the state owes to public K-12 education, otherwise known as “the negative factor.”
– Nearly $20 million is on the table for Coloradans with developmental disabilities, with budget makers saying the priority is on reducing and even eliminating the waiting list to live in community housing.
– The budget for Colorado’s prison system is set to increase by 7.4 percent this year (the education budget, by contrast, will increase 2.8 percent). Lawmakers point to high recidivism rates as a driving factor in the department’s nearly $900 million budget, and also to increased reform-minded spending such as adding 23 mental health staffers to correctional facilities housing mentally ill and developmentally disabled prisoners.
– The compromise struck in this year’s immigrant drivers license debate — that the state would allow spending to dispense the special licenses in three DMV offices around the state as opposed to one or five — will carry over into the next fiscal year as well. That means one of the most contentious issues of the session will not be a factor of debate when it comes to the state budget.
Photo of Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt by Tessa Cheek.
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