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Holbert tries to explain his lone ‘no’ vote on state budget

Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, pushed to replace Rep. Kevin Priola as House GOP whip Thursday but his motion didn't get a vote.

Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, pushed to replace Rep. Kevin Priola as House GOP whip Thursday but his motion didn't get a vote.

DENVER — What do you do when you’re the only one among 65 state representatives to vote against a state budget that all of your colleagues hail as a successful compromise?

In the case of Rep. Chris Holbert, who cast Thursday’s lone no vote, you issue a press release.

On Friday, Holbert issued a statement attempting to explain his vote as a principled stand against government spending, noting that the budget approved by the House and now heading to the Senate “spends every penny of state revenues, approximately $7.6 billion, plus some $12 billion dollars of federal funding, which relies heavily on deficit spending by Congress.”

“I look forward to having conservatives in the Senate joining me in voting against an annual budget and the underlying process for which the outcome is to spend every penny every year,” Holbert said in a statement. “We must find a way to save for the future, to spend less than 100 cents of every dollar, and to address the long-term structural issues facing our state.

“Our state — and our nation for that matter — cannot afford to continue kicking this can down the road.”

That’s a far different explanation than the one that swirled around the Capitol on Thursday, as Republicans privately groused that Holbert’s vote amounted to “sour grapes” after the House GOP caucus refused to allow him to run an amendment dealing with abortion on Wednesday, when the House spent hours debating a few dozen “message amendments” to the budget that aimed to make political points.

Amidst an ongoing political fight for women voters in the run-up to the November election, another abortion amendment that Democrats could have painted as part of the GOP’s “war on women” wasn’t exactly the message House Republicans were looking to send.

Holbert, however, has denied that the amendment, or lack thereof, had anything to do with his “no” vote.