Kumbaya on the ‘Long Bill’

(April 11) – With nary a no vote this afternoon, the Joint Budget Committee resolved disagreements between the House and Senate on the state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Today’s action by the JBC, which has three Democrats and three Republicans, was crucial to reconcile divergent versions of HB18-1322, aka the “long bill.” It passed the House on March 28 with 15 amendments. The Senate stripped off all those amendments and on April 4 added 28 amendments of its own, with some overlap.

“We set aside party politics to craft bipartisan solutions to real problems, with big wins for education and transportation,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, the JBC chairwoman. “We’ll be asking the House for its concurrence tomorrow.”

On one former point of contention, the JBC (technically meeting as a conference committee) agreed unanimously to go with the House’s appropriation of $35 million, including $7 million previously authorized, in one-time funding for school safety, with a revised footnote explaining that the legislature’s intent is to devote the money to hardware and capital improvements for student safety, as well as training for school resource officers and other school personnel.

Also going through the reconciliation process are HB18-1329, HB18-1338 and HB18-1340, three of the “orbital” bills traveling through the legislative process with the “long bill.”

By far the most significant is HB18-1340, which appropriates $495 million in new money to repair and expand the state’s crumbling, overburdened transportation systems, including state roads, local roads and transportation options. A competing bill, SB18-001, would make a similar appropriation but devote all of the money to construction of new roads.

The “long bill,” HB18-1329 and HB18-1338 are headed back to the House for its concurrence. HB18-1340 was laid over by the JBC for future action.

“We have one key piece of legislation still on our plate, but I think we’ve laid the groundwork for the final adoption of a balanced, bipartisan state budget that addresses the needs of hardworking Coloradans and their families all across our state,” said Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, a JBC member.

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