Ritter signs budget, notes changes in priority from Owens’ tenure | SummitDaily.com

Ritter signs budget, notes changes in priority from Owens’ tenure

DENVER – Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter signed the state budget on Wednesday, saying he put his own stamp on the spending plan he inherited from Republican Gov. Bill Owens and included a few course changes as well.However, Ritter followed Owens’ lead by vetoing 88 budget notes containing instructions from lawmakers on how the money should be spent. Ritter told majority Democrats they can’t tell him what to do.Ritter said he tried to give voters what they asked for during his campaign last year – responsible, conservative spending – although the budget was already being worked on when he took office.Ritter said he changed the budget to focus more on keeping people out of prisons, instead of building new ones, and put more money into mental health treatment.”We’re changing how government works and how we can be smarter about how we spend taxpayer dollars,” Ritter said.Despite bipartisan support for the budget, Ritter sided with his predecessors in a long-running dispute between the Legislature and the governor’s office over who controls state spending.Ritter vetoed seven budget headnotes, which contain definitions of programs, and 81 footnotes, which say how the Legislature wants the money to be spent.The state Supreme Court ruled in June that Owens did not have the authority to veto headnotes and that lawmakers didn’t have the authority to tell state agencies how to spend their budgets.But Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction, said he did not expect the Legislature to mount a legal challenge or try to override the governor’s veto.Buescher said he’s working on a bill for next year that will make it clear what money can be moved between categories that would end the conflict.Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, chairman of the Joint Budget Committee, said Democrats understood the vetoes and would not hold them against Ritter.”We don’t fight for them on the floor as much as much as we fight for what’s in the budget,” Tapia said.

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