- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

DENVER (AP) - Colorado’s $25 billion budget for next year passed the Senate Thursday with nearly every Democrat voting no because ruling Republicans rejected funding for some of their ideas.

The 21-14 vote came after nearly a dozen hours of debate over two days. Only three Democrats, including one budget writer, voted in favor of the spending plan that takes effect July 1.

The Democrat-controlled House takes up the budget next week.

Most of the spending is non-negotiable because it goes to places such as schools, colleges, health care and prisons.

But every year lawmakers try to make minor tweaks to fund things they want. Usually, the minority party is left feeling left out because their amendments don’t pass. This year, it was the Democrats’ turn after being in the majority for the past 10 years.

“Many of the things that we believe in got shut out of the budget, and many of us were shut out on access on the ability to help shape this year’s budget,” said Sen. Morgan Carroll, the Democrats’ leader in the chamber.

Republican Senate President Bill Cadman responded by saying that “every amendment received a fair review, just like it always does,” regardless of which party is in power. He then noted how Republicans who were in minority in prior years have also seen their amendments go down, often on party-line votes.

“But nobody complained about that at this microphone,” he said.

Most of the nearly 50 proposed budget amendments came from Democrats. Some of the things Democrats wanted funding for included $3.4 million for affordable housing grants, and $5 million to continue a birth-control program that gives low-income teenagers long-acting reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices. They also wanted $5 million to expand broadband in rural areas.

Some of those amendments can come up again when the House takes up the process next week.

The majority of the spending plan includes federal money lawmakers have little control over. Of the $25 billion, only about $9.6 billion is under their control, a pot of money called the general fund.

The new budget is indicative of an improving state economy. Lawmakers have to set aside about $70 million for surplus tax refunds mandated under Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. TABOR requires refunds when tax revenue exceeds the rate of inflation and population growth.


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