State Budget Debate

By  | 

The heated debate over the state budget moved to the state House today, as lawmakers squabbled over new programs.

Democrats want to shift spending in Colorado to focus on programs to keep people out of prison -- but Republicans are complaining that outlays continue to soar.

Representative Bernie Buescher, a Democrat from Grand Junction, says House Democrats are placing an emphasis on preventative care. That would include substance abuse treatment and mental health care so the state can begin saving money.

But Republicans say voters are going to wonder why lawmakers are asking them to give up tax refunds, while at the same time starting new programs.

The proposed budget fix would ask voters to allow the state to keep an estimated three-point-one billion dollars in tax refunds over the next five years to help the state get back on its feet economically.

The proposed budget was approved today by the House Appropriations Committee. It would increase general fund spending by 6.8 percent to $6.2 billion after lawmakers reclaim $163 million from accounting mistakes made over the past few years, money lawmakers say they should have been allowed to keep under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.