As Colorado lawmakers begin the week when bills for the house and senate are due, Colorado State Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) says bipartisanship is one of his goals, even as his party controls both chambers and the governor’s office.
“Our goal is always to work across the aisle,” said Garcia, a Democrat. “You’ll find that at the end of this session many, many that we work on are together.”
Garcia represents areas of Pueblo and is the first-ever Latino president of the chamber. He says his appointment to lead the Senate speaks to the bridging of another divide.
“I’m very happy that my colleagues have supported me in being the President of the Senate. They recognize the importance of having a perspective outside of the Denver-metro area.”
Bridging the divide or just building bridges are priorities for the session this year. After two measures failed for transportation funding on the November ballot, lawmakers are required to bring up the topic to somehow find more money for roads.
“A lot of this can be done through some federal grants and also some local matches. So, that’s where we find ourselves. Making sure that whatever we implement isn’t just for one size, it’s not just for the Denver-metro area, that it will help rural areas.”
Additional funding for any means will come with a challenge as Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, has proposed his budget that includes funding for a campaign promise—money for full-day kindergarten across the state that runs an estimated $227 million.
“The question for us is how do we make sure we address other priorities—transportation, health care. I think there’s a way to do both and all of those things this year with the mindset that we have to be responsible in this budget and that’s one of the perspectives that I’ll bring,” said Garcia.
This week is a soft deadline for bills to be introduced. Later additions can be added later on in the session. The session is scheduled through May.