Schultheis, DaveThe 2010 state General Assembly convened yesterday with speeches from Democratic and Republican leaders foreshadowing the grudge match to come. The state has grappled with an almost $2 billion shortfall over the past two fiscal years and faces cuts of more than another $1.3 billion in the fiscal year that starts this July, according to The Denver Post.

Lawmakers in prior sessions have tried to minimize the impact to services (though there have been many cuts) by embracing measures such as property-tax breaks for seniors and mandatory unpaid leave for state workers. It’s unclear where cuts will be made this year.

“Two wars, two recessions—one nearly resulting in economic collapse—disasters both natural and man-made. If anything, history’s long march, which rarely presents time to exhale, is speeding up. Today, though better than yesterday, again presents this nation and this state with new challenges,” House Speaker Terrance Carroll, a Denver Democrat, told colleagues (via the Associated Press).

Job creation is a focus for both parties. But can lawmakers cooperate and get the job done? A report by the Colorado Springs Gazette notes “the bipartisan spirit of opening day for Colorado’s General Assembly lasted about two hours, withering as a Colorado Springs Republican [Senator David Schultheis, pictured] attempted to shoot down a seemingly benign bill designed to nab federal grant money for public schools.”

Today, Governor Bill Ritter, who last week announced he wouldn’t seek a second term, gives his final State of the State address (via 9News).