Colorado lawmakers want full disclosure on state finances
DENVER, Colorado ” The House on Friday tentatively approved a measure to require state agencies to fully disclose anticipated costs when submitting proposed legislation to lawmakers.
The unanimous voice vote came after Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Littleton, claimed that Gov. Bill Ritter’s administration had withheld budget information from the Legislature on one occasion, misleading lawmakers about the cost of programs they were voting on.
The administration denies any wrongdoing.
House Bill 1112 faces a third reading before going to the Senate.
The bill would require state agencies to work with legislative budget analysts and justify their calculations. It also limits changes to financial requests once a bill has been submitted. But it carries no penalties. And under current law, state agencies don’t have to provide financial impact statements to accompany legislation introduced by the administration.
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“The information that these entities relay to the General Assembly is vital” if lawmakers want to balance the state budget, Kerr said.
Kerr cited claims that in 2007 the Department of Natural Resources withheld cost estimates for developing or implementing regulations governing oil and gas development. The department says it provided as much reliable information as it had at the time to the Legislature.
Kerr also said that in 2007, Ritter signed a bill creating a health disparities office after lawmakers were promised there would be no significant cost. The program at the Department of Public Health and Environment was ordered to find ways to eliminate racial, ethnic and rural disparities in health care. This year, the department said it needed $233,000 to run the program because private funding had dried up.