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April 12, 2012 09:36 PM UTC

Chris Holbert Kicks Ball Over Fence, Goes Home

  • 8 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Dueling press releases from House Republicans and Democrats follow:

“This budget is a responsible budget, one that increases funding for education, protects our seniors, invests in our students and helps to build a better Colorado,” said Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.

“Politics is compromise, and on a JBC with three Democrats and three Republican we got through the budget process without a lot of acrimony,” said Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), the House Democrat on the Joint Budget Committee. “That doesn’t mean I’m thrilled with the result. We could have put more resources into education, the disabled and low-income seniors, but we couldn’t because the senior property tax exemption diverted so much funding.”

—–

As the Denver newspaper reports, the Colorado House today voted to approve a $19 billion state budget by a 64-1 margin.

The sole ‘NO’ vote was from Republican Rep. Chris Holbert, who fellow Republicans say apparently wouldn’t support the budget because he was mad that his caucus rejected his idea for a budget amendment dealing with abortion — presumably because they understood how bad it would look for the GOP to hijack the budget process over abortion in a state where the “Personhood” amendment continues to get voted down in overwhelming numbers.

But hey, good job sticking to your, uh, principles or whatever, Chris. If they won’t play by your rules, just refuse to play!

House Passes 2012-13 State Budget

Apr 12, 2012

(Denver) – The Colorado House of Representatives passed a bipartisan, balanced state budget today that prevents deeper cuts to K-12 and higher education and restores a property tax exemption for older homeowners.

The final vote on HB12-1335 was 64-1, with a lone Republican holdout, Rep. Chris Holbert (R-Parker). The budget now goes to the Senate, which will make its own modifications, initiating a period of negotiations with the House before a final agreement is reached. The 2012-13 fiscal year begins July 1.

“Politics is compromise, and on a JBC with three Democrats and three Republican we got through the budget process without a lot of acrimony,” said Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), the House Democrat on the Joint Budget Committee. “That doesn’t mean I’m thrilled with the result. We could have put more resources into education, the disabled and low-income seniors, but we couldn’t because the senior property tax exemption diverted so much funding.”

The debate was made easier by the state’s improving economic picture. With a rising economy, state revenues are projected to be nearly $200 million higher than previously estimated. The budget awards the largest shares of that money to the senior homestead property tax exemption and K-12 schools.  

Democrats tried to get the Republicans to use part of the budget cushion to finally support some form of economic development and job creation. But the GOP shot down a handful of amendments to connect Coloradans to good jobs, and even prevented an effort by Rep. Tom Massey (R-Poncha Springs) to increase funding for the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, which offers incentives to attract businesses and jobs to Colorado.

The Republicans also stripped out resources to protect air and water quality from oil and gas drilling.

Democrats scored some victories, including Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino’s motion to overturn Rep. Spencer Swalm’s amendment defunding the Office of Consumer Counsel, which advocates for lower utility rates for consumers. The House was unanimous, including even Rep. Swalm (R-Centennial), in voting to kill the amendment.

Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Englewood) was able to secure an additional $200,000 for grants for affordable housing, and Rep. Edward Vigil (D-Fort Garland) got an extra $100,000 to reimburse water commissioners for their travel expenses.

House approves state budget by record margin

April 12, 2012

Fighting for seniors – Investing in our students – Saving for our future

DENVER-The House of Representatives approved the 2012-13 state budget, better known as the Long Bill.

“This budget is a responsible budget, one that increases funding for education, protects our seniors, invests in our students and helps to build a better Colorado,” said Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch.

The Long Bill includes House Republican priorities, such as:

Defending Colorado’s seniors by not suspending the senior property tax exemption and increasing funding for the old age pension program and dental services for seniors;

Investing in our children by increasing K-12 and higher education funding, proposing more than Governor Hickenlooper’s request;

Saving for our future by maintaining a balance of over $100 million in the State Education Fund;

Protecting severance dollars for important water and infrastructure projects across the state; and

Protecting Amendment 35 funding for cancer prevention, research and treatment.

“This year’s budget was historic,” JBC Chair Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, said. “I’m proud that House Republicans led the way to getting a budget passed by a 64-1 margin.  That’s a record.”

Before today’s vote, Democrats tried to hijack the Long Bill by taking funds away from rural Colorado and education.

“I am deeply disappointed that House Democrats tried to undermine this bipartisan budget agreement by taking funding away from education and focusing on their divisive political gimmicks,” said Joint Budget Committee member Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan.  “In the end, we put the partisan politics aside to pass a budget that was good for everyone.”

This morning, the editorial board of the Fort Collins Coloradoan called out House Democrats for not taking the budget seriously, saying the Democrats tactics were “banal” and “wasting valuable time.”

House Democrats’ priorities included taking funding away from education and private prisons that are a vital part of rural Colorado’s economy-a tactic that Democrat Rep. Claire Levy of Boulder objected.

“I would like to commend Rep. Levy for standing up to her party,” House Majority Whip B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, said. “Time and again, Rep. Levy pointed out that House Democrats amendments were unnecessary and wrong.”

Joint Budget Committee members traditionally vote together against all amendments to the Long Bill.  However, JBC members are not required to speak against amendments. With almost every political gimmick Democrats offered, Levy called out her peers, labeling the Democrats’ amendments “unnecessary,” including an amendment by state Rep. Chrisanta Duran, D-Denver, that attempted to exploit women and shift the focus of the budget discussion away from the legislature’s constitutional obligation to balance the budget.

“I want to thank our entire leadership team, specifically Speaker McNulty, for making this process something we can all be proud of,” said House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument.

The budget passed 64-1, a testament to the leadership of House Republicans. The measure now moves to the state Senate for further consideration.

###

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