Directly after his budget reform bill cleared the state Senate on Tuesday with a 21-14 party-line vote, sponsor John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, joined supporters in the Capitol’s west lobby to celebrate its passage and rally support for the tough battle that awaits it in the House.
Opponents of SB 228 in the Senate, including anti-tax Republicans who said it violated Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment, tried to kill the bill through a 10-hour filibuster two weeks ago on its second reading and by adding amendments that would have essentially neutralized it. Those efforts, including an unusual move by Minority Leader Josh Penry, R-Fruitia, to introduce an amendment during the bill’s final reading on Tuesday, all failed.
In the end, Morse was able to stand his ground on the bill and didn’t make any compromises with Senate Republicans so the legislation could be handed off to House co-sponsors Don Marostica, R-Loveland, and Lois Court, D-Denver, as unchanged as possible.
“We wanted [House members] to see the bill intact, to understand what we’re trying to do with it,” Morse said.
Marostica said the intention now was definitely to “slow the process down” so that a careful compromise can be reached in the House.
“So far I haven’t seen a deal that will work … but I have put out calls to constituents and colleagues,” he said. “We’ll consider [the bill] carefully.”
Referring to the rainy-day fund and set-asides for transportation pursued in the last week by the GOP senators opposing the bill, Marostica said that “there’s room [to talk] about all of that.”
Court said that despite the partisan battle waged in the Senate, the bill was a practical way to “strengthen representative government” by returning the responsibility to elected officials to choose which programs to fund each year and at what levels.
“I’m a ‘D’ and he’s an ‘R’,” she said pointing to Marostica. “This isn’t about partisan politics.”
In opening the rally, Morse quickly shifted the focus to Marostica.
“The best thing I did was to choose Rep. Don Marostica to co-sponsor this bill,” he said not a minute into his prepared remarks.
Marostica nodded his head in response as scattered applause and hoots bounced around the lobby.
“We have misinterpreted our constitution for 18 years,” Morse also said. “That’s a lot of history, and it takes a lot to say we made a mistake.”