Rainy-day bill advances

A proposed rainy-day fund for Colorado took a step forward Tuesday with approval from the House Finance Committee.

The 8-3 vote moves the measure by state Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, to the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, frequently a graveyard for legislation.

In the case of House Bill 1177, though, King said the measure might escape death. King said he had indications the measure would die in finance, but it gained traction there instead.

“Dead bill still walking,” King said.

The bill calls for the establishment of the Colorado Economic Stability Fund. The Legislature would be required each year to set aside 10 percent of any increase in the amount of general-fund revenues over the previous year into the stability fund until the fund balance reached 15 percent.

In general a supporter of the idea, Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Denver, said he was troubled by the fact the measure would require money to be set aside immediately as the state’s fortunes improved. It would be preferable to let the Legislature devote new revenues to restoring programs for two years, then begin setting aside money, Kagan said.

If the bill emerges from another committee with provisions about diverting money into the stability account in later years, he could support it, Kagan said.

“My only quarrel is that it kicks in immediately,” Kagan said. “There is a time for saving, and there is a time for not saving.”

King said he would consider adding a provision that Kagan could support.

“If we had 15 percent in reserves a year ago, the state would not be in the financial straits we are in now,” King said.

The measure would require two-thirds majority votes in both houses to dip into the stability fund.


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