New Legislative Session Begins

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It's back to work for the state legislature and already lines are being drawn. The question this year, will there be a compromise between the Republicans and Democrats regarding three key amendments.

Democrats say they support Amendment 23, which guarantees increased funding for K-12 schools every year, based on a formula.

Republicans are fighting for the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR amendment. That limits government spending based on growth, inflation and the previous year's budget... They also like the Gallagher amendment, which holds residential property taxes down...

The legislature looks forward to 119 more days. But both sides of the aisle agree, changes need to be made to the three amendments. “The conflicting amendments---Amendment 23, TABOR and Gallagher, have got to be addressed or we'll continue to go down the drain,” said District 18 Rep. Mike Merrifield, a Democrat.

Republicans don't think education funding should have to go up, as its required by Amendment 23, while other departments loose when the economy is down.

Democrats say TABOR hurts the state by putting a cap on spending based on the budget the year before. So as the economy turns around, spending isn't allowed to go up to old levels without a vote, which is the so-called “ratchet down” effect. “I think we need to look intensely at the racheting-down effect of TABOR,” said Rep. Buffie McFadyen, a Democrat who represents District 47.

But Republicans say TABOR saved them from having to cut even more last year. “The fact that we didn't have to cut any more than we did was the fact that TABOR kept us on a budget diet,” said Rep. Lola Spradley, Speaker of the House and a Republican.

Both sides say there is room to negotiate and time to find the middle of the aisle. To make any changes to any of the amendments will take a two-thirds vote by both the House and the Senate... Then it has to pass the voters of Colorado.