From the La Junta Tribune Democrat (Debi Brazzale):
Early indications are that the funding will be left largely intact in the coming budget year after having been diverted last year to help cover the state’s budget deficit. Neverthess, Rep. Wes Mckinley, a Democrat from Walsh, and Republican Sen. Ken Kester, of Las Animas, say they are on guard and that the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s funds need to be protected to keep water projects going in their districts.
Of special concern is the Arkansas Conduit Project, which took a temporary hit last year when more than $100 million was diverted from the water conservation board to help the state through its fiscal straits and balance the state budget. Some $35 million of that total came out of the conduit project’s funding, putting federal matching dollars at risk as well. The project provides treated water to southeastern Colorado. That money since has been recouped through higher-than-anticipated revenue from the state’s severance tax, according to Colorado Water Conservation Board Direction Jennifer Gimbel. Gimbel also said that, so far, next’s year’s pending budget takes $11 million from the board’s funds but that the diversion won’t affect the conduit or any other current projects.
McKinley acknowledged the budget process is far from over. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they did take some more,” said McKinley. “It seems like if there’s money out there, there’s several hands grabbing for it.”