Colorado General Assembly opens; budget cuts could be on horizon

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DENVER -- The Colorado General Assembly is back in session.

In the House chamber, lawmakers began with discussion of the most controversial topic at the start of session: The state’s hospital provider fee.

Democrats, including Gov. John Hickenlooper, have proposed shifting that fee into an enterprise fund so it can be used as a new source to fund roads and schools. Possible cuts could total more than $300 million.

Republicans are contending that violates the integrity of TABOR and is unconstitutional.

“We enter this legislative session staring at a state budget proposal that requires significant cuts in critical areas,” Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst said during her opening day speech.

“Republicans will categorically support Colorado's Constitution and will not compromise its integrity under any circumstance,” Minority Leader Brian Delgrosso said in response.

Other bills introduced by Democrats on Day 1 include equal pay for state contractors as well as a bill allowing parents to take paid leave from work to attend parent-teacher conferences and academic events.

Republicans are calling for a robust new transportation bill, but Delgrosso said he does not support one that would raise taxes, including the gas tax.

“The voters have spoken,” Delgrosso said. “I think voters have told us they are unwilling to give us extra revenue."

The governor is scheduled to deliver his State of the State address at 11 a.m. Thursday.

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