Readers of Colorado Pols are surely aware that state lawmakers faced a devastating task when they returned to the State Capitol last week: How to cut $3.3 billion from a state budget that was already tighter than Pat Neville’s shirt collar.
There were literally tears being shed by members of the Joint Budget Committee because of the gut-wrenching decisions that had to be made at a significant cost to some of the neediest Coloradans among us. After weeks of discussions, lawmakers led by Democrats in both chambers limited the pain as much as possible and finalized a budget.
Today, the State House voted to approve the amended state budget by a vote of 41-23.
Not a single Republican in the House voted ‘YES’ on advancing a bill that is a constitutional mandate.
Legislative Republicans had already indicated that they were downright giddy that major cuts would have to be made, but they made little effort to assist Democrats in the process. Republicans were upset, for example, at a proposal to make cuts to the Senior Homestead Exemption; nobody wanted to make cuts to the Senior Homestead Exemption, but it’s a big line-item.
What did the GOP propose to cut instead?
We noted when the legislature reconvened last week that Republican lawmakers weren’t even pretending that they had helpful suggestions for balancing the state budget, which is something lawmakers are constitutionally-bound to achieve every year. Conservative politicians in the House who often shout about the need to cut spending in the state budget had the perfect opportunity to whip out the scissors. Instead, they sat on their hands and let Democrats make the adult decisions.
We’ll be interested to see if Senate Republicans take the same approach as the “Long Bill” moves to the upper legislative chamber. Considering that the GOP chose the worst possible option on how to act when the legislature reconvened last week, we aren’t holding our breath.