With one eye on a $500 million state budget gap and the other on Washington, Gov. John Hickenlooper and a split Colorado Legislature enter the 2017 lawmaking session with little expectation of fiscal reform and plenty of uncertainty over transportation, the state's Medicaid bills, affordable housing and illegal pot sales.
Last year, Hickenlooper and fellow Democrats tried and failed to loosen Colorado's strict spending rules by declaring a $750 million hospital fund off-limits to tax rebates. They wanted the money for aging roads and underfunded schools.
The governor dropped that idea from his proposed $28.5 billion budget this year, as lawmakers prepare to face more tough spending choices during their four-month session starting Wednesday.