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Colorado Lawmakers Eye May 18 Return, Consider $3.5M Cuts From Operating Budget

Scott Franz
Capitol Coverage
State lawmakers went into an emergency recess on March 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wearing masks in a nearly empty hearing room at the state Capitol on Wednesday, top lawmakers said they want to resume their session on May 18.

But they are also working on a backup plan that would let them pass a budget and other critical bills remotely if it's still not safe to return.

Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said he doesn't think lawmakers should go online to hold committee hearings and vote on bills unless it becomes absolutely necessary. He added the remote system should only be used to pass essential bills like the budget, which lawmakers are required to get done.

Lawmakers are hoping they can return to the building on May 18 and send a budget to Gov. Jared Polis by June 1.

Their task won't be easy.

House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, said last week lawmakers were facing a $2 to $3 billion deficit for next fiscal year.

The legislature is also considering cutting its own operating budget by as much as $3.5 million next year.

Cost-saving measures lawmakers are considering range from not filling vacant positions to cancelling a proposed pay raise for legislators and staff next fiscal year.

Party leaders also are supporting a plan to save about $111,000 by cancelling interim committees this summer. The committees usually convene to work on a range of bills while lawmakers are not in session.

Scott Franz is an Investigative Reporter with KUNC.
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