It’s unofficial ‘Peter Groff Day’ in the Colorado Senate

For a pretty unassuming fellow, Colorado Senate President Peter Groff, D-Denver, can still stir up the languid state Capitol press corps.

Rumors out of the Golden Dome, reported by the Denver Post today, claim that Groff will resign as top dog for a position with the Obama administration. That news comes as the Colorado Senate announced this afternoon that it rejected the long bill sending the proposed state budget back to the Joint Budget Committee for the first time in Colorado’s legislative history.

The Post’s Lynn Bartels reports that her sources have confirmed that Groff will accept a federal appointment to the U.S. Dept. of Education “in a position that involved faith-based and community initiatives.” The senate president has been a long advocate for charter schools, which has won him fans and foes on both sides of the ideological divide as well as in public education circles.

Groff declined to comment on the rumors swirling at the Statehouse.

It’s interesting to note that education also figured in the unprecedented wrangling today by the Senate and the JBC over the state budget.

The smack-down, led by Groff, was provoked by the JBC’s draconian $300 million cut in higher-education funding to balance the state budget. The bill was sent back to the JBC for further haggling.

In a written statement, Groff said: “It is unconscionable to allow these kinds of cuts to higher education. After meeting with leadership on both sides of the aisle, it was clear that the Joint Budget Committee had to go back to the drawing board. The long bill cannot balance the state’s budget on the backs of the students, parents and teachers we have spent so many months and years trying to elevate through our educational policies. This long bill needs to be deliberative and sensitive to the very serious needs of higher education in this state.”

Flexing some bipartisan muscle and supporting the president’s “Race to the Top” educational agenda, funded with $44 billion in economic stimulus dollars? Looks like Groff may have been plucked for a plum job, indeed.

As Wray Republican and Assistant Minority Leader Greg Brophy, who often tangled with Groff’s leadership team, graciously said to the Post, “Washington’s gain is our loss.”