Bipartisan Joint Budget Committee coming to an impasse

Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said the long-bill budget package, which had been due to be presented to the Senate today, was pushed back at least a week because Republicans are looking to “increase the cut to schools while protecting tax breaks for Walmart.”

The Pueblo Chieftain provided a comprehensive look at the partisan struggle over budget priorities that could cost schools $500 million, as Republicans look to ensure nearly $200 million in revenue is left untouched.

From the Chieftain:

Hickenlooper proposed to double the state reserve to 4 percent, cut $375 million from K-12 education and close Fort Lyon Correctional Facility in Southern Colorado.

Republicans greeted those ideas with hallelujahs. But their distaste for Hickenlooper’s plans to withhold a share of sales tax from vendors, tax cigarettes and grab funds traditionally given to local governments has brought the budget-balancing process to a standstill.

Mark Ferrandino
“The Republicans keep saying that they support the governor’s request, and we’ve been tabling some of those issues,” said JBC member Rep. Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver. “We’re still talking about them, so I wouldn’t say we’re at an impasse yet. But we could be on that track.”

Democrats say they have acquiesced to many Republican demands such as increasing the state reserve fund to 4 percent, a move that Democrats say would come on the backs of Colorado state employees. Ferrandino said the Republicans have not made similar concessions.

“People need to be willing to compromise. I see a path to a solution,” Ferrandino told the Chieftain. “Republicans and Democrats are both going to have to do things they don’t like, swallow a bitter pill. For the most part, Democrats are willing to swallow that pill reluctantly. I have not yet seen the Republican leadership willing to swallow that bitter pill. The ball is in the Republicans’ court.”

The Senate is closed today due to the set back of the long-bill timeline.

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