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Lawmakers get answers as to why Colorado construction projects appear delayed

DENVER -- Colorado lawmakers continue to question why more than $100 million in construction projects, initially approved in the spring of 2017, appear delayed.

Projects include A/C for universities and mental health facilities in the state, emergency fire prevention construction, as well as flooding mitigation for the Colorado National Guard.

Monday morning state legislators convened a meeting with representatives of the Treasurer's Office in an attempt to understand why final paperwork has not been authorized.

Certificates of participation could have been issued as early as July 1. They are now expected in the end of September.

Democrats on the committee expressed disappointment State Treasurer Walker Stapleton did not appear at the meeting, sending a deputy in place.

Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, said his main concern was a delay could mean higher costs to the state including higher interest rates and construction costs.

"Having a three month delay means you have two major financial impacts," Hansen said. "We are probably looking at a quarter point impacts because of this delay. That adds up to tens of millions of dollars."

The State Treasurer's Office disagrees there will be any financial cost.

“The Treasurer’s Office has not delayed the transaction.  The exact opposite is true.  We have worked hard to keep all the different parts of this and all other financial transactions going forward at every step of the way” Deputy Treasurer Ryan Parsell said.

Parsell testified that July 1 wasn't a  deadline but instead the first day the paperwork could be finalized.

Parsell said technically the Treasurer's office has until June to get the paperwork completed.

The Treasurer's Office said the hold up is attributed to the state doing their do diligence and recieving legal advice for a time that expressed reservations that the bonds issued for the project could be in jeopardy becomes of pending litigation against the state -- mainly a lawsuit by the Tabor Foundation and whether the state had the legal authority to authorize the projects.

Stapleton for his part has said he believes Democrats are manipulating this for political gains. Stapleton is the GOP nominee for governor.

"I think this is a perfect example of why people lose faith in government -- fabricated political stunts by the Democrats," Stapleton said last week at a press conference.

"This is absolutely not politics," said Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. "It is now passed the middle of 2018 and we are still waiting for these programs to be funded."

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