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Colorado's Joint Budget Committee chairman Brad Young of Lamar said Tuesday that a 16% decrease in state revenues over the last two years, as well as the spending limits provided under the tabor amendment, have created another challenging session for the state legislature. Young said that Tabor didn't create the current problems, however, it will keep state government from operating at the current level of services he said. Young said that the problem is that we are putting money into spending programs, but there is no revenue coming back for next year. He said that that just pushes the problem out another year. Young said that he is considering cutting another $40 million from state revenue and using $40 million in the state's tobacco money to make up the deficit. He said that regardless of what plan is implemented, Coloradoans can expect the cuts made as a result of balancing last year's budget won't come back again this year.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation spent the day Wednesday picking through debris from the fire that gutted the historic Rialto Theater in Alamosa on Tuesday. The investigation is expected to last into next week before a cause for the fire is determined. City workers were reportedly thawing frozen water lines that run through the theater on Tuesday before the fire began, however, it is unknown at this point whether or not that had anything to do with the fire. The theater building has been condemned by the city due to heavy structural damage. Citi Financial Lending and Something Handmade in the front part of the building both sustained extensive damage and Oscar's Restaurant on the east side of the theater reportedly experienced extensive damage to the roof where it joined the Rialto building.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation filed papers this week in U.S. District Court denying that it didn't turn up evidence of misconduct against Huerfano and Las Animas Counties District Judge Claude Appel. The filing did say that the prosecutors decided not to file charges against Appel following a three-year criminal investigation that began in 1994. Appel is suing the FBI for unspecified monetary damages saying that he has suffered substantial damage to his reputation resulting from the FBI releasing its confidential file about the secret investigation. The new filing is the FBI’s answer to Appel's lawsuit and it did not elaborate further. The FBI did admit to Appel's allegation that the bureau did not obtain his consent before releasing the documents about him and that it did not black out his name from the documents. Appel and Huerfano County Judge Robert Haeger were exonerated of all allegations of misconduct against them last year by Colorado Supreme Court Justice Mary Mullarkey.
Jim Hartman, 47, of Trinidad, made his first court appearance on Monday before Huerfano County Court Judge Claude Appel. Hartman, a Las Animas County Sheriff's Deputy, is charged with two felony counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and unlawful sexual contact, and one misdemeanor count of child abuse. Hartman is currently free on $50,000 bail and is on paid administrative leave. His arrest was the culmination of a nearly two-month investigation by the Walsenburg Police Department. Information about the alleged victim was not made available.