Little or no savings from some bills

Despite promises from candidates in both major political parties before last year’s elections to cut the size of government, few bills introduced into this year’s Legislature actually aim to do that.

And the ones that do, don’t do so by much.

Some would cut state revenue by millions of dollars and increase state expenses as a result. A handful of others introduced so far would eliminate a few state jobs and trim the state’s nearly $20 billion annual budget by only a few thousand dollars.

Here’s a sampling of some of them:

Colorado is the only state that requires royalty owners as well as producers to file income tax returns to pay severance taxes on minerals taken out of the ground.

But under HB1125, introduced by Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, that would change to only producers having to file returns, allowing them to deduct from royalty checks what mineral-rights owners would have paid in taxes.

The state would gain more than $4 million in tax revenue, primarily because some royalty owners fail to file those returns. But the savings in processing tax returns would only be about $19,000 and one-tenth of a full-time job, according to Jason Schrock, an economist with the Colorado Legislative Council who drafted the fiscal note to Fischer’s bill.

The Trinidad Nursing Home used to be the only non-veterans nursing home owned by the state. But because it was losing about $400,000 a year for several years, the Legislature in 2009 authorized its sale to a private contractor.

Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, wanted to prevent that sale from occurring, which would have meant its 161 workers would have stayed on the state’s payroll and Colorado wouldn’t have earned the $3.9 million from that sale, which was completed earlier this month.

Instead, the 13-member House Health & Environment Committee unanimously killed McKinley’s HB1038.

Though it neither saves nor spends money, Sen. Steve King’s measure introduced last week to create a rainy-day fund could cut into what limited revenue the Legislature has to spend at a time when it’s facing a $1 billion shortfall.

The Grand Junction Republican introduced SB27 to put some money aside for the next revenue shortfall, though many state lawmakers say the time isn’t ripe to do that because the recession still is affecting the state.

His measure would put aside $180 million over the next three years, allowing lawmakers access to it only if two-thirds of the Legislature approves spending it.

Two Republicans want to do away with a program created last year that required professional sprinkler fitters who work on fire-suppression systems to register with the state.

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, introduced HB1120 to end that program, costing the state about $100,000 in revenue while saving it about $115,000 in expenses and one full-time position.


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