Sens. Bennet, Udall cautious on Obama’s $50 billion request

Both Colorado senators are treating with caution President Obama’s request for $50 billion to ease the burden on state and local governments.

Obama is asking for the spending that he told Congress is needed to avoid “massive layoffs” of teachers, police and firefighters that are paid with state and local funds, which have been under pressure as tax revenues have slipped because of the recession.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, raised concerns about the recession and spending.

Bennet is reviewing details of the proposal, his office said, and is “focused both on the very pressing needs of cash-strapped local and state governments and (Bennet’s) obligation to act as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars in a time of rising deficits and mounting debt.”

Udall, also, is concerned about how the president’s request would affect the economy.

“We know the need is there. We are just trying to prioritize the spending to account for our growing deficits,” Udall said in an e-mailed statement.

Udall said he was involved in dealings affecting the way the federal government assists in paying for medical care and in negotiations about offsets for the teachers fund.

Obama has asked for $23 billion he said is needed to prevent layoffs of as many as 300,000 public school teachers.

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., is watching to see what emerges from the Senate, a spokesman from Salazar’s Washington, D.C., office said.

The House peeled away from a bill last month an Obama request for $24 billion in aid to states that would have supplied emergency benefits for jobless workers.


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