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State Budget Surplus Leads To Spending Spree

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DENVER (CBS4) – For the first time in years the state budget is seeing a surplus rather than a deficit and lawmakers seem to think this money is a lot more than it really is.

The state Legislature is on a spending spree that includes $86 million for community college professors, $7 million for breast and cervical cancer and $5 million for school counselors, CBS4’s Shaun Boyd reports.

They are also spending tens of millions of dollars in tax breaks for child care, advanced industries, fire mitigation, historic preservation, and much more.

“Republican or Democrat, there is going to be some real lessons here that not everybody can have everything they want,” said Sen. Kent Lambert, who plays a key role in writing the budget as a member of the Joint Budget Committee.

Lambert said he has never seen such wild spending.

“I don’t know, the sun came out and everyone decided now is the time to spend everything,” said Lambert.

The governor’s budget request is for $9.1 billion this year and by law, the state has to set aside $1 billion in reserves.

Those alone, surpass the $9.7 billion in the general fund. This comes before a 4.5 percent pay raise for state workers and $404 million in bills awaiting approval in the Legislature.

Lambert says that something has to give.

Unlike the federal government, the state must balance its budget every year, which means some recent spending proposals may not make the cut.

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