From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):
The federal government puts up the money in low-interest loans as long as the state pays for a fifth of the costs and the state Legislature OKs the projects on the list. The list includes dozens of projects around the state, including sanitation systems in Cortez, Durango, Bayfield and Pagosa Springs, plus water delivery systems in Cortez, Mancos, Durango, western La Plata County and Pagosa.
This year’s resolution [Senate Joint Resolution 10-004: Water Projects Eligibility Lists] (pdf), though, turned into a partisan fight over wages. The Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency insisted that high wages, on par with union paychecks, be paid on the federally funded projects, even those already in progress. “We’re in pretty tough times here, and to add 5 to 20 percent cost increases to projects that are already under way, it’s unbearable,” said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma.
The sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 4 called the EPA’s conditions “regrettable,” but he has heard from many cities that they can handle the extra cost with little trouble. Cortez, for example, faces a $43,000 cost increase, said Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins…
In the end, SJR 4 passed the House 62-3. It was a different story earlier this month in the Senate, where the sponsor was Sen. Bruce Whitehead, D-Hesperus. The resolution passed the Senate, but only on a 20-14 party-line vote – rare for a resolution that usually gets near-unanimous support.
More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.