On November 8, 2012, just two days after the general election, I was elected by my colleagues in the Senate to serve another two years on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee. The JBC began it’s annual budget process the next week and the first order of business was electing a new chair. This position rotates each year between the House and Senate, and in the year following a general election a senator chairs the committee. In the year preceding the election the House of Representatives gets their turn.
I am happy to report that I was unanimously elected Chair of the Joint Budget Committee on November 14, 2012. Rep. Claire Levy of Boulder is the new Vice-Chair, and next year at this time we’ll switch titles. It is an incredible honor to be entrusted with the responsibility to lead our budget process. The role of JBC Chair has been called the most powerful position in the legislature, and while I consider this assertion to be somewhat debatable, it isn’t that far from the truth. My good friend Rep. Mark Ferrandino may better resemble that remark… Congratulations Mr. Speaker!
The JBC is already hard at work, and I’m looking forward to the tasks at hand. Five of the six JBC members from the previous legislature remain on the committee, so our working relationships are strong. Rep. Crisanta Duran of Denver is the only new member this year and she seems eager to learn and contribute. And of course, with an improving economy we won’t be facing as many painful decisions as was the case the past two years. That is, unless Congress drives us over the fiscal cliff… but that’s another blog post.
For those of you following me on Twitter (find me @PatSteadman), I’ll probably be tweeting a little less during JBC hearings. I’ve never been that prolific at tweeting, but last year I would often report significant decisions or the subject matter of various hearings. Now that I’m chairing the committee I doubt I’ll be able to reliably tweet quite as much. But you can always keep up with us by following Sen. Kent Lambert (find him @KentLambert), as he’s been very good at tweeting links to our JBC staff documents and where we are on our agenda. You’ll get a different spin on the action, but you’ll still know what we’re up to.
Throughout November and December the JBC receives briefings from staff on the departmental budget requests, and then holds hearing with state agency officials to discuss their funding and programs. In January our focus shifts to mid-year “supplemental” appropriations that adjust spending in the current fiscal year and keep our budget in balance. Then we spend most of February and March ”figure setting” to determine the amount of funding for each line item in the Long Bill. If we’re on schedule, I’ll introduce the Long Bill in the Senate on Monday, March 25, 2013. I’m going to be pretty busy for the next five months or so… wish us luck!