January 28 2010, 11:23 AM
State lawmakers continued a marathon committee hearing late into Wednesday night, as business groups urged them not to eliminate millions of dollars in tax credits and exemptions as a way to balance Colorado's budget. Businesses, already lean because of the recession, worry that jobs and growth are at stake. But Representative Jack Pommer, the Boulder Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee, told opponents that if they oppose eliminating the breaks, they should have suggested other areas from which the state can cut, writes The Denver Post. Colorado is seeking to bridge a $2.2 billion shortfall this year and at least $1.3 billion in the next fiscal year starting in July. Representative Cheri Gerou, an Evergreen Republican, asked Pommer (pictured) to withdraw the bills to give Republicans time to come up with alternatives. But Pommer wasn't feeling sympathetic: "You've been here the whole time [during the budget crisis]," he said. "At any time, you could have given us ideas." After nine hours of haggling, the committee passed several bills---all on a 6-5 party-line vote---with Democrats leading the cause. Several more bills are expected. Collectively, the legislation would add about $125.8 million to the state's coffers, according to the Denver Business Journal. Meanwhile, three tax-slashing measures that could remove billions of dollars from the state budget are on the horizon. Signatures gathered at Tea Party rallies have guaranteed a slate of proposals will appear on the fall ballot. Governor Bill Ritter's office refers to the proposals as the "anti-society initiatives." Ritter tells The Colorado Independent that they would further pare down what is one of leanest state governments in the country. "Something would simply have to fall away," he says.