Tomlinson Library renovation depends on Senate’s decision

A deal is in the works with the state’s annual spending plan to get money for several higher education construction projects, including Tomlinson Library at Colorado Mesa University.

But an amendment tacked on to the budget that would do that is contingent on there being more state revenue over the next few months.

Earlier this month, the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee passed over several capital construction projects called for by the Legislature’s Capital Development Committee in favor of projects that had a lower funding priority.

That created a bit of a firestorm in the Legislature, which was resolved last week when the Colorado House debated it.

If the Senate agrees to the change when it debates the $23 billion budget this week, $18.5 million would go to the Tomlinson Library renovation project and millions more to a slew of others if the next two revenue forecasts show the state is collecting more tax dollars than it’s budgeted for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“That is very promising considering we are talking about less than 1 percent of the state budget,” CMU President Tim Foster said in a statement. “Much of the state is seeing an economic uptick and we are optimistic. With this in place, we could move expeditiously. This project is good for our students, good for our economy and would have a positive impact on the economy in this part of the state.”

The state budget also includes money for another local project, $4.6 million to expand the Western Slope Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Grand Junction. The measure also authorizes the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to hire an additional groundskeeper to maintain the cemetery.

Beyond that, the bill calls for overall increases in just about every branch of government, including a $100 million hike in funding to K-12 spending over what the state spent last year.

Still, every House Republican except the one who sits on the JBC, Rep. Cheri Gerou of Evergreen, voted against the bill, saying the state didn’t do enough.

“We could have done so much more in this budget,” said House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland. “We could have done so much more with the resources that we have, and we still could have done it in a fiscally responsible way.”

That angered House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, who said he was disappointed at DelGrosso’s comments, saying the budget is based on bipartisan programs, including increasing funding for public schools.

“These are all things that we’ve talked about, we’ve worked on and are going to make our state better and stronger,” he said. “There are fixed costs, necessary costs that we have to pay for, and there are competing interests. This budget tries to balance those competing interests.”

The Senate will spend the rest of this week debating the budget, and is expected to vote on it by week’s end.


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