DENVER (KDVR) — The president’s Build Back Better plan is one of the most controversial issues on Capitol Hill right now — and what happens next, could have a big impact on Colorado.
The $3.5 trillion dollar funding package is President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan, but every Republican and at least two Democrats are saying it’s just too much to spend. Some of the more than $3 trillion current bill would go to fund forestry programs. With the regular threat of wildfires, Colorado lawmakers are pushing to keep that part of the bill intact.
“I think there’s good progress being done. I don’t know what the final number is going to be, I’m much more interested in the question you asked which is, ‘What is it that we really want to make sure we preserve for Colorado?’” Sen. Michael Bennet said.
Bennet said scaling back the multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better plan is likely, but reducing one aspect could have a major impact in Colorado.
“Something I’m very concerned we could lose part of is the work that we’ve done over a long period of time to get billions of dollars to forest restoration, watershed protection, in the wake of the fires we’ve had last year in Colorado. That’s really important work,” Bennet said.
State Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Gibbs said the state needs a boost from the federal government not only to stop fires, but to continue recovering from other large disasters like the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fires.
“We’ve identified needs of over $760 million of high priority needs of defensible space, proactive forest management, and that includes over 400,000 acres of land,” Gibbs said. “It’s not a matter of if, but when Colorado will have its next megafire and we need to be prepared for these situations coming forward.”
About $50 billion is included in the plan for these efforts as proposed by Congressman Joe Neguse.
With the overall high price of the package, the deal remains a tough sale for other Colorado congressional members.
Congressman Ken Buck’s Office said:
“Congressman Buck is not going to support legislation which adds trillions to our national debt and causes increased prices for middle class families in Colorado.”
– Nick Givas, Director of Communications.
As Congress works on finding a compromise for the price tag, Director Gibbs said recovering from fires that burned in the state last year could use about $50 million additional dollars. As he waits for Congress, he said bills passed at the state capitol are helping with operations now.