Conservative Lambert replaces moderate Marostica on JBC

By Jason Kosena
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

The days of the happy-go-lucky, all-for-one-and-one-for-all Joint Budget Committee may be ending.

With the departure of moderate Rep. Don Marostica, R-Loveland, who resigned his House seat and the JBC to serve as director of the Office of Economic Development, GOP leadership faced a choice. Should they select someone who would get along with the Democrats on the JBC, as Marostica did, or appoint some sort of Republican rabble-rouser to shake things up?

House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, left, laughs at a joke told by Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, during a press conference to name Lambert the newest GOP member of the Joint Budget Committee.
Photo by Jason Kosena/The Colorado Statesman

House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, chose the latter.

On Monday, Aug. 17, May appointed Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Kent Lambert to fill Marostica’s seat on the JBC. Lambert is best known for his staunch socially conservative views. But he has always toed the fiscally conservative line, and there’s no question that he’ll shake things up on the JBC.

“I want, from the beginning of the budget process, someone on the JBC who will reflect the view of a limited government, low-tax, high productive state,” May said to a small group of reporters Monday afternoon.

“I think it’s been a long time, probably since (Tom) Tancredo was on there, (since) we have had that voice on the JBC. We need some diverse opinion on there and (Lambert) will certainly bring it.”

During the same meeting, Lambert, a House Finance Committee member and former U.S. Air Force officer who worked on military budgets, said he would do his best to protect the GOP’s fiscally conservative values as he helps draft the budget.

“We’re going to find a lot of common ground (with Democrats)... as long as they follow the philosophy that we have to make some legitimate cuts to government,” Lambert said. “I would not want the JBC to take on a (good old boy) kind of attitude. I think our first priority is to the people of state of Colorado.”

When May was asked if he was intentionally trying to throw a wrench into the JBC’s budgeting process by appointing Lambert, he said no.

“Of course we intend to cooperate (with the Democrats). We have to get a budget done, and I am not intending to blow up the JBC,” May said. “However, I am not interested in business as usual at the JBC, either. I don’t think you have to surrender your principles at the door. (Lambert) is a limited-government voice. And, hopefully, some Democrats believe in that, too. That is what needs to be in there. That is what is missing right now.”

On Tuesday, Lambert’s first day on the JBC, he watched Gov. Bill Ritter present a bruising 50-page list of 100 state funding cuts totaling $320 million. The JBC meets throughout the year and will begin drafting the 2010-11 budget in November.

Jason@coloradostatesman.com