Apr 8, 2012 1:10 PM by Matt Stafford
DENVER (AP) - Colorado lawmakers are entering their final month of the 2012 session with plenty left to do - but without the caustic atmosphere one might expect in the closing days of an election year.
The state's divided Legislature has until May 9 to balance the budget and make final decisions on questions such as civil unions, tuition rates for illegal immigrants and changing how underage criminal defendants are treated.
It sounds like a recipe for political heartburn, but the Capitol mood is surprisingly optimistic.
An improving economy means the budget Colorado lawmakers take up next week will begin to restore funding for state services cut deeply during the recession.
And because Democrats and Republicans are unlikely to agree on many other measures, lawmakers can turn their sights to next year.