Colorado lawmakers facing daunting to-do list as they head into 2017 term

Jan 12, 2017

Credit 50states.com

The Colorado Legislature begins the 2017 term today with what The Denver Post describes as a daunting to-do list and divided chambers.

The issues facing this year’s Legislature include questions on how to improve the state’s roads, how to put more dollars in the classroom and how to boost the state’s economy.

As they seek compromise on how to best tackle these areas, The Denver Post reports, there are 10 issues facing lawmakers during the 2017 session.

One is, Republicans, who feel emboldened by Donald Trump’s election as president, are pledging an uncompromising approach, while Democratic leaders are vowing to act as a roadblock to Trump’s priorities.

Colorado’s crowded and crumbling roads has risen to the top of the Legislature's priority list as Colorado transportation officials estimate that the state is looking at a $1 billion shortfall on its road and bridge needs – a problem that is being exacerbated by the state’s growth in population.

While both parties are moving closer to an agreement that a major spending initiative is needed, the question of how to pay for it remains and may go to the voters in a referred measure, according to The Denver Post. 

On the topic of school funding, top lawmakers and school officials have been meeting to discuss changes to the state’s funding formula, as public school advocates are pushing the state to get more money into the classroom.

A $169-million deficit will determine the fate of dozens of bills that propose spending and the Joint Budget Commtitee, split evenly along party lines, will have to decide what to fill the hole with, while prioritizing how much money will go to education, health care, roads and criminal justice.

Expanded use of marijuana sales tax revenues are one potential source to help fill the budget gaps.

Other issues facing the Legislature include the energy verses environment debate, construction defects overhaul, the affordable housing shortage, reclassification of the hospital provider fee and how to properly regulate marijuana.