DENVER A deal on the state budget between Democrats and Republicans held true Monday, as the Senate took a series of bipartisan votes to approve the $7 billion spending plan.
Like the showdown in Washington, D.C., Colorados budget was stalled earlier last week as Democrats and Republicans couldnt agree about how to make cuts. But state lawmakers last Tuesday afternoon struck a deal, and the compromise held up in a two-day Senate debate Friday and Monday despite grumbling from both sides.
Meanwhile, the House voted to repeal taxes on agricultural supplies, which was one of the concessions Democrats made to Republicans in order to win support on the budget. The 47-18 vote on House Bill 1005 sends the bill to the Senate, where Democratic leaders have pledged to support it. If it passes, it would repeal the sales tax imposed last year on pesticides and fertilizer.
Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, voted against a bill that takes $123 million from savings accounts for water projects and local governments affected by natural-gas drilling, something she has fought against unsuccessfully all year.
I would really suggest that by the time we get to this point next year, we find a way to true up our budget other than balancing it on the backs of the people in the rural areas, Roberts said in Fridays debate.
Democrats complained about the $250 million cut to education, but most of them voted for it and it passed 29-6.
Republican senators, including Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield, were more supportive of the cut.
In our country over the last several decades, weve doubled education spending in real terms while results have largely flatlined, Mitchell said.
Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, tried and failed to block the closure of Fort Lyon prison in Bent County.
It was one of the many tough choices the budget contained, said Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, who served on the committee that wrote the budget.
We are shrinking government here, folks, and Im sorry thats only popular when it happens in someone elses district, Steadman said.
The budget actually is 24 separate bills, 22 of which the Senate approved Monday by comfortable margins.
The vote on the main budget bill was 30-5, with two Democrats and three Republicans opposing it. It marked the heaviest Republican support for a budget in at least four years.
The House will get the budget later this week.
Reach Joe Hanel at firstname.lastname@example.org.