The Senate passed the budget this past week, the one thing we are required to do by law. This was the most collegial process the Senate has enjoyed on any major piece of legislation this year.
The bill now goes to the House, where they generally strip all of the Senate amendments off and put on their own. From there the budget goes back to the Joint Budget Committee, where they look at all of the amendments and act as the Conference Committee to reconcile all the versions of the bill and bring it back into balance.
Forty-two amendments were printed this year, a light year from what I was told. Some were to fund projects or programs important to a Senator, some were to defund or reduce funding to projects or programs. Thirteen of those amendments passed.
The most significant amendment was a Republican amendment that moved money around to make transportation a priority, resulting in $106 million more available for roads and bridges, bringing the total transportation funding to $336 million, fulfilling the goal put forward on opening day by the minority leader.
Thank you to the many Democrats who supported this amendment. We hope the entire amount makes it through the rest of the process, but even a significant portion of that will be a win for Coloradans. So, with all that praise and hope, I should explain why I voted against the budget.
The latest revenue forecast a week earlier showed about $200 million less coming in this next fiscal year than had been projected. That meant the glide path the budget had been on for the past several months needed to scaled back.
It was to some degree, but in order to make a less significant cuts, one-time money and reserves were used to balance the budget. So what we did was increase the base budget going forward, with no way to sustain it in future years. I just could not support that, making me one of six no votes.
You’ve read more about the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill than is fair, but the final reading of this bill was heard the day after the budget. I have included excerpts from the closing remarks I made on the floor.
“Starting with what I believe is the infringement of our constitutional rights, there are many reasons why I will not be able to support this bill ... now that 1177 has been debated at length and found wanting, let’s get together with concerned legislators from both sides that want to produce a meaningful, constitutionally compliant bill that will have bipartisan support because we addressed the root of the problem: the mentally unstable person.”
I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capital. There are lots of ways to stay in touch. My office phone is 303-866-4877 or my mobile phone can be reached at 719-351-2121 and my email is SenatorHisey@gmail.com.
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