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Colo. may drop primary to save money | (UPI) -- DENVER Cost-cutting Colorado legislators will consider dropping the state's presidential primary to save $2.7 million in precious state money, a member of the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee said Wednesday.

Colorado is facing the worst budget crisis in its history with an $850 million shortfall in the current fiscal year. Legislators are searching for ways to cut state spending and the presidential primary may be one of many targets in the current session.

"When we put that in place there was a hope that we would get all the Western states to join together for a super primary here in the West so we would have a voice in the presidential selection but it never materialized," said state Sen. Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction. "Now we have a primary that nobody pays attention to."

Colorado held its first primary in March 1992 but not enough other Western states started primaries to attract national attention, the senator said.

Another problem with the Western primaries was they were not on the same date. "They kind of lost their punch," Teck said.

Other Western states may now look at dropping their presidential primaries in light of the widespread state budget problems, he said.

"Anybody that's looking for money to balance their budgets is going to be looking at it," Teck said.

A bill will be introduced soon to eliminate the 2004 Colorado primary.

Dropping the primary will be only one of many measures considered by the Legislature in making up for the $850 million shortfall. The budget committee was expected to recommend about $465 million in cuts by the end of the day Wednesday.

"This is the most severe budget crisis we can find in our history," Teck said. "Our records go back to 1940 and it's certainly more severe than anything back that far. We aren't sure what it looked like back in the Depression."

The state's revenues were termed "anemic" in a report released Dec. 20 by the state's economic and budget experts before the session began this month.

Republican Gov. Bill Owens has ordered cuts of 4 percent and 6 percent in this year's state agency budgets. He has exempted programs like K-12 education, including the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, from spending cuts. Some state workers have lost their jobs.

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