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KUNC is a member of Capitol Coverage, 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.

It's Budget Debate Time At The Colorado Capitol

Jim Hill

State lawmakers are set to debate the annual budget, which funds everything from roads and schools, to health care and parks. In 2016, Colorado has a shortfall, so that means making budget cuts. So what are some of the major budget issues? We asked the reporters working the hallways of the capitol to find out.

Capitol Conversation Highlights

On Budget Cuts

John Frank, The Denver Post: "Colorado budget writers started with a nearly $2 million deficit they had to fill. And they've worked to close that gap through a number of budget tricks and cuts. For one, we're not going to need see TABOR refunds in fiscal year 2016/2017, which is a significant change. A number of accounting moves eliminated those refunds. The second part is transportation funding was cut about $50 million."

Read More: Colorado Budget Bill Eliminates TABOR Refunds, Slashes Spending

On The Hospital Provider Fee Debate

Charles Ashby, Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: "The governor has said he continues to negotiate with [Republicans]… the politics, which you can't ever separate in this building, is about to get heated up a little bit here."

Frank: "The hospital provider fee debate, this big thing we've been following all session, both sides, Republicans and Democrats chewing at each other on it, has really started to fade. And the governor admitted this when he talked to reporters recently, that the urgency isn't as strong, although he still wants to do it, but without a TABOR refund, the hospital provider fee switch and moving it to an enterprise fund won't actually benefit the budget much at all."

Read More: House Bill 16-1405 Long Appropriation Bill

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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