Colorado Senate sends budget bill to House

Photo: Sen. Kent Lambert
Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, is chair of the Joint Budget Committee.

Update 11:20 a.m. The state Senate passed the budget bill Thursday morning. The final vote was 21-14, with all the votes against the budget coming from Democrats.

"That this budget survived every attempt to throw it out of balance is a testament to the transparent and truly collaborative way it was put together by the Joint Budget Committee,” said Senate President Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs) in a press release.

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In a preliminary vote Wednesday night, all but two of the chamber’s Democrats voted against the $29 billion spending package. They tried unsuccessfully to boost funding for scholarships and affordable housing, and add more money to programs for the poor. Senate Republicans are generally supportive of the budget.

Republican Sen. Kent Lambert, chair of the Joint Budget Committee, reminded his colleagues that the budget is a compromise between the Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled House.

"We’re just starting in the Senate, but we have to present a budget that’s acceptable both to this body, the House of Representatives, and the governor’s office," Lambert said.

Next year’s budget boosts prison funding by 8 percent and higher education by 12 percent. It also includes nearly $200 million more to pay for a major increase in Medicaid patients.

The budget that starts July 1 contains very little wiggle room for new policies. Budget writers only left about $5 million for each chamber to spend on all the bills still pending this session.