DENVER - A plan to lift a cap on part of the state budget has passed the Legislature, clearing the Senate 20-11 on Thursday.
Senate Bill 228 now heads to Gov. Bill Ritter, who brokered a compromise with highway contractors that helped save the bill.
The bill removes the law that keeps the state general fund from growing more than 6 percent a year and replaces it with a higher cap keyed to personal income. Contractors and their Republican allies had opposed the bill because currently, money left over the 6 percent cap goes to highways.
Democrats wanted the 6 percent cap gone so they can have the power to use more of the general fund for colleges and health care.
The contractors dropped their opposition after Ritter pushed changes to the bill that would dedicate money to highways for five years starting in 2012. However, that money might not materialize if the economy doesn't recover or if the state has to offer rebates under the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
College merger heads to governor
The Legislature has approved the creation of Southwest Colorado Community College.
The college will be formed from the merger of San Juan Basin Technical College and the local branch of Pueblo Community College. Its main facility will be at the San Juan Basin campus, just off U.S. Highway 160 between Mancos and Cortez.
Senate Bill 43 passed the House on a 64-0 vote Tuesday. On Thursday night, the Senate agreed on a 31-0 vote.
The college will be a division of Pueblo Community College. A merger has been discussed for years, but until this year, administrators from the two schools have not been able to agree on details.
College officials told lawmakers this year the merger will make it much easier for Four Corners students to pursue a college education. Students will no longer have to choose between community college and the technical college, and it should be easier to transfer credits from the new institution to other public colleges.
Popular vote bill dies
State senators have abandoned their bid to make an end-run around the Electoral College and elect the U.S. president by popular vote.
House Bill 1299 would have joined Colorado into a multi-state pact to dedicate all the state's nine electoral votes for president to the winner of the national popular vote. Five other states have adopted the plan - Washington, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois.
The Senate on Thursday night voted to kill the bill for the year. It had passed the House last month on a 34-29 vote.
The bill would have taken effect once states representing at least 270 electoral votes - the minimum to win the presidency - joined.
The winner of the popular vote has lost the Electoral College three times in U.S. history, most recently in 2000.