House Takes Up State's Budget

77 Amendments Slated For Introduction in 2nd Reading

The Judicial Budget Committee said they have worked hard to craft a "lean," "fiscally prudent" balanced budget that reflects the priorities of the citizens of Colorado.

It's been a work in progress for six months and Wednesday it was up for its second reading in the House.

H.B. 1375, or the Long Bill as it's known, is a record-setting one, and estimates for the bill float anywhere between $17.5 billion and $18.4 billion dollars.

Republicans said that pricetag is cause for concern in Colorado's current economic climate.

"We are having a hard time in the state. It is our job to make the tough decisions over the next two days that are going to reflect our ability to save," said Rep. Amy Stephens, a Republican from El Paso County.

Democrats agreed but said some of those decisions involve beefing up state agencies desperately in need of full-time employees and support systems.

"Most people want safer streets. Most people want stronger schools. Most people want more affordable health care...that's why we are hiring more prison guards, parole officers and teachers," said Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver

Rep. Douglas Bruce, R-Colorado Springs, said he was concerned about the 1,334 full-time state employees the bill was seeking for hire. He said the Department of Corrections alone would receive 165. Bruce said those 165 were not new employees but were contract employees that would now be afforded civil service rights.

Bruce introduced an amendment addressing the issue but it was shot down.

In total, 77 amendments are slated for introduction Wednesday. Lawmakers said they expect a long night addressing the long bill but hope to send something both sides can agree on to the Senate with a vote on Thursday.

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