Capitol Conversation: Colorado Senate Approves Budget — With Reservations

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3min 47sec

The $28.6 billion state budget is making its way through the legislature. It covers everything from roads and health care to schools and prisons. Despite many lawmakers wanting significant changes, it overwhelmingly cleared the Senate.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland discusses the politics behind the budget with reporters John Frank with The Denver Post and Nic Garcia with ChalkBeat.

On why so many lawmakers are unhappy with this year's budget:

Frank: It left a lot of people unhappy. Particularly lawmakers in rural areas who could see their hospitals close because of payments they receive for uncompensated care. That's a very real thing, but you still saw these lawmakers vote for the budget, just about every one who did mentioned that it's not perfect, they mentioned that they hope it gets better.

On what happens with education funding for K-12 schools:

Garcia: We're going to see an increase of about $185 per pupil. That is the fifth year we've seen an increase to education since 2011 when the state was really constrained by the Great Recession. It has been a top priority for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. And this year despite a really difficult challenge of finding money, they did. They had to do it on the backs of hospitals.

On the future of related spending bills to fund roads and put more money into rural areas:

Frank: Transportation is already moving, and now we'll have this bill for rural hospitals and rural schools. It'll be really interesting to see if they come to an agreement, because these are major spending issues that you often spend an entire session, if not the time before the session, the months and months before a session working out. So, there's a big question about whether these are poised for next year or whether they can actually get something done by May 10th.

Capitol Coverage is a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.