The compromise that saved the federal stimulus bill might come at a high cost for Colorado.
The state government, police departments and Mesa Verde National Park all could get money out of the stimulus, but the U.S. Senate's version is less generous to all three than the original bill.
Both of Colorado's senators - Democrats Mark Udall and Michael Bennet - were part of the group of 20 or so moderate senators who hashed out an agreement Friday on the $830 billion plan. The Senate plans to vote on the package today.
The group cut more than $110 billion out of the House version of the bill, including hundreds of millions of dollars that would have gone to the Colorado state government. If the Senate bill wins approval today, then senators and representatives will have to negotiate a final version this week.
Colorado would have received $1 billion to fix its budget from the House bill. Senators cut that amount by at least $400 million.
"Clearly we need to provide some help to the states, but it has to be done in a way that will create jobs and not solely fill a hole in the state budgets and allow the states to stand pat," Udall said Thursday in a conference call between negotiating sessions.
The $400 million was Colorado's share of a $25 billion grant to keep state cuts from offsetting the federal stimulus, said Kathy White of the left-leaning Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute.
"It's important whatever the federal government does that it reach down deep enough into the states to prevent the states from cutting," White said.
Bennet said Thursday that the moderate senators took seriously the criticism that the bill was getting loaded with pork.
"I think we should listen to some of those suggestions, because the American people expect this to be a recovery bill and not a Christmas list," Bennet said.
State lawmakers were hoping for good news from Washington, but they weren't pinning their hopes to the stimulus bill.
State Rep. Don Marostica, R-Loveland, a member of the Joint Budget Committee, said the Legislature is preparing its cuts as if the stimulus will not happen.
"I know it's going to disappoint a lot of people," Marostica said. "A lot of folks thought for sure that we would get that, and their program would come back, at least partially."
The White House predicts Colorado will get 63,000 jobs out of the stimulus bill, said Christina Romer, Chairwoman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
In a Thursday phone call with Western reporters, she said the Obama administration doesn't want to cut the bill too much.
"One of the things I have been emphasizing all along is it needs to be big, because the problems are big," Romer said. "I would certainly argue strenuously against not letting the plan get too small."
Here are some comparisons between the House and Senate bills:School districtsThe House set aside $14 billion for school construction and modernization. The Senate has a higher number - $16 billion.
Under the House bill, Durango District 9-R would get $461,300 in construction money; Archuleta County 50JT $370,600; Ignacio $239,000; and Bayfield $109,700. The Senate has not released local details.
Local districts also can expect money for special education and disadvantaged students under both versions bills.
Police grantsThe House bill provides $22 million in Byrne grants for Colorado police agencies, but the Senate would cut that by 60 percent. The grants can be used for many purposes, said Lance Clem, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.
Several area agencies got Byrne grants last year, including a Cortez-based drug task force, the Southern Ute drug- and alcohol-treatment program, a social responsibility program in Ignacio schools, and the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office, which bought a fingerprint scanner with its grant.
Those local grants already have been made and will not be cut. But other agencies hoping for bigger grants this year could be out of luck.
States have had a hard time proving to Congress that the grants make a difference, Clem said.
"Since a lot of these programs are crime-prevention programs, it's very tough for states to say, 'Here's what we prevented,'" Clem said.
The Department of Public Safety is currently accepting applications for this year's grants.
National parksMesa Verde National Park has applied for several projects that use stimulus-bill money. The park wants to rebuild its road, upgrade trails, build a new entrance facility and revamp the Far View Visitor Center into a cultural center, said spokeswoman Tessy Shirakawa.
The House bill sets aside $1.7 billion for construction in the national parks across the country - about three times the Senate version.
Shirakawa hasn't heard whether the Senate changes would affect Mesa Verde.
"We're certainly moving forward with all the planning as if we do get the funds," she said.
Speed is important, because the stimulus bill requires the projects to be under contract by Sept. 30, she said.