State Sen.-elect Al White to discuss budget with Routt County commissioners Tuesday |

State Sen.-elect Al White to discuss budget with Routt County commissioners Tuesday

Brandon Gee

If you go

What: Routt County Commissioners' meeting with state Sen.-elect Al White

When: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday

Where: Commissioners' hearing room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

Call: County offices at 879-0108

— A likely $600 million state budget shortfall could dominate the discussion between state Sen.-elect Al White, R-Hayden, and the Routt County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.

“When you’re talking about those kind of cuts, pretty much everything is on the table,” said White. Colorado counties receive significant funding from state government.

As a member of the state Legislature’s powerful Joint Budget Committee, White will play a significant role in determining where the cuts are made to balance the budget. White said an additional $300 million to $400 million may need to be cut from the fiscal year 2010 budget presented by Gov. Bill Ritter. The state’s fiscal year begins in July.

White is one of two Republicans on the six-member Joint Budget Committee, which is the Legislature’s permanent fiscal and budget review agency. The JBC writes the annual appropriations bill for the operations of state government. The process is unusual compared to most states, where the main appropriations bill originates in the executive branch.

County Commissioner Doug Monger said he hopes to hear White’s thoughts regarding legislative issues. Monger said one of his particular interests is the potential for a massive, devastating fire spreading through millions of acres of Colorado’s lodgepole pine forests killed by the mountain pine beetle.

“We’re going to have a big fire at some point in time,” Monger said.

County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush’s primary concern is the state’s transportation infrastructure. In a January report, the Colorado Transportation Finance and Implementation Panel identified a $155 billion funding gap if no new sources of revenue are created for the Colorado Department of Transportation. The panel recommended five new funding sources it estimated would generate $1.5 billion annually.

The panel’s work largely went ignored in the 2008 state legislative session, and Mitsch Bush hopes that won’t happen again.

“I certainly hope transportation will be the issue of the 2009 legislative session,” she said. “It is the biggest single piece of infrastructure that we own, and it’s falling apart.”

White guessed that transportation funding will be a “primary item of conversation” when the Legislature convenes in February, and he shares Mitsch Bush’s view that it will take a variety of solutions to solve the problem.

“I don’t think there’s a single proposal out there that’s going to solve the problem. I think it’s going to take several proposals,” White said. “The dollar amounts we’re talking about are too much.”

The county commissioners also hope to schedule a meeting with state Rep.-elect Randy Baumgardner soon.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail

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