If you listen carefully this week in the halls of the State Capitol, you might hear famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer’s catchphrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble,” echoing under the Golden Dome.

The General Assembly is finally climbing back into the ring to fight over balancing the state budget’s predicted $3.3 billion shortfall.

Actually, the Legislature might learn a lesson from Buffer. He copyrighted his phrase and has raked in over $400 million from its use.  If only a few of the 100 legislators could come up with some quote worth copyrighting, the budget shortfall could be funded.

This year’s budget battle is unique in my eight years at the Capitol. Ordinarily, because the House Republicans have been in the minority during my tenure, the battle lines have been clear. The Democrats were always fighting for more dollars to be spent in a myriad of agenda bills.

The Republicans, on the other hand, were focused on identifying budget line items that could be cut to limit government spending.

Now, using the American version of Winston Churchill’s “My African Journal” famous quote, “The boot is on the other leg,” (We say, “The shoe is on the other foot”), things have changed.

Because the Democrats own this budget, they have to figure out where they can cut $3.3 billion to make it balance. The Republicans are now circling the wagons to protect budget line items they consider important to their agenda.

My, my, how quickly things can change. For those of you old enough to remember the 1975 “Thrilla in Manila,” this fight may put Ali versus Frazier in the shade.

If I recall, that brutal bout all but finished both boxers’ careers. Some legislator’s careers may be in jeopardy before the final bell rings on this emotional budget battle as well.

By the time you read this column, the House Republicans will have released their four point House Republican Recovery Plan to help Colorado get back on track. The Plan includes:

• Rein in Emergency Powers (Accountability for the Governor and other elected/appointed leaders)

• Help Colorado businesses/cut red tape.

• Budget Focus (“right-sizing” State government to reduce the tax burden on individuals while defending the Senior Homestead Exemption and K-12 Education Funding).

• Rural Strong (schools, hospitals, agriculture, transportation and oil/gas).

The unveiling of the Recovery Plan took place at the Capitol on Monday. It remains to be seen how the plan will be accepted by the House Democrats.

The date for the Legislature to return to the Capitol remains (as of this moment) the first of next week. As all of you are painfully aware, there are numerous restrictions, guidelines and recommendations in place for any of us venturing outside our homes.

Last Sunday, legislators received the “Subcommittee Recommendations on Safety Protocols for the General Assembly,” a total of 3 ¼ pages of them.

The opening paragraph stated, “The following recommendations are made regarding new safety protocols for the reconvening of the General Assembly during the COVID-19 health epidemic.

“These recommendations are being made through consultations with a bi-partisan group of legislators, NCSL, CDPHE and non-partisan staff.

“The purpose of these written protocols is to ensure a safe and healthy working environment while the General Assembly is reconvened.”

As for me personally, I would feel a lot better if it were indeed possible to “… ensure a safe and healthy working environment … ” at any time, let alone with COVID-19 lurking out there.

The categories covered in the document include personal protections, health screenings, social distancing guidelines, suggested protocol for committee meetings and protocols for floor work. A lot of thought went into the plans, but in a large public building filled with folks from all over, there are no guarantees.

As Colorado begins the process of returning to nearly normal, please continue to stay safe. Feel free to call my office in the Capitol at 303-866-2747 or send me an e-mail: wilsonforhd60@gmail.com or james.wilson.house@state.co.us.

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