Budget battle continues between House Republicans and Senate Democrats

The ping pong game on a Colorado House joint resolution that provides direction for state spending continued today as House Republicans rejected amendments made yesterday in the Senate.

The Senate had amended the House bill by returning the 2.7 percent removed from projected Colorado revenues by the House.

The argument is over budget forecasting, with the Republican-controlled House wanting to reduce revenue forecasts to be safe, and The Democratic Senate wanting to accept the forecast, only making additional cuts when and if they become needed.

“The Senate pretty much went through and re-changed all the work that we — stripped off all the work that we did over here in the House,” Rep. Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, said on a day when many legislators were unable to make it to the Capitol due to sub-freezing weather conditions. DelGrosso asked that HJR 1007 be sent to a conference committee.

The traditionally non-controversial resolution provides the Joint Budget Committee with direction as to state revenue for budget planning purposes for the next fiscal year. However, this year Republicans sparked debate by amending the resolution to further ratchet down predictions made to the non-partisan Legislative Council economic forecast.

Democrats say that the additional $195 million that would need to be cut from the budget if projections were further lowered would amount to thousands of teacher positions and may needlessly affect K-12 education before it was necessary to do so.

Republicans say that Colorado should expect the worst and hope for the best. They say make cuts in the budget now.

Senate Majority Leader John Morse said yesterday that Speaker of the House Frank McNulty had not provided any specifics regarding the cuts that would have to occur as a result of a further 2.7 percent reduction. As a result, Morse brought forward amendments that were passed by the Democratic Senate that both removed the reduction and added that any revenue brought in over predictions should be used for K-12 education.

Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, said he felt the Democrats had done some fine work but agreed the resolution should go to a conference committee.

“Maybe we can work it out in conference,” Pace said.

The resolution will now go to a House conference committee made up of sponsor Rep. DelGrosso, Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, and Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver.

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