(June 30) – The state’s 2014-15 fiscal year begins July 1, and with it the inception of several major components of an agenda advanced by House Democrats during the 2014 legislative session to make Colorado safer, healthier, more prosperous and more secure.
“July 1 will be a good day for every community in Colorado,” Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), the chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee, said of the new state budget that goes into effect on
Tuesday. “Whether it’s assisting with flood and wildfire recovery, making historic investments in our education system, or increasing economic opportunity and security for all Coloradans, the 2014-15 state budget will help move our state forward long into the future.”
The 2014-15 state budget:
· Commits $188 million to recovery from the floods and wildfires of 2013 and to wildfire prevention
· Increases state funding for education by nearly $400 per pupil
· Boosts funding to our public colleges and universities by $100 million
· Implements economic development programs to boost key industries, create good-paying jobs and build a strong, sustainable economy that supports all Coloradans
· Increases funding for workforce development programs
· Boosts reimbursements for social services providers
· Increases the state reserve by more than $130 million, to 6.5 percent, to prepare for future emergencies and economic downturns
· Boosts investments in women’s health services and family planning
· Increases services for victims of domestic violence and child abuse
Other notable laws taking effect Tuesday:
· Low-income Colorado seniors and those with disabilities become eligible for an increase in the grants they receive for rent assistance and home heating, and the income limits change to allow more individuals to qualify. Under the new law, sponsored by Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), individuals making $6,639 a year or less, or married couples with a combined income of $10,731 or less, can receive up to $700 a year to help pay rent and $192 a year to help pay heating bills, helping keep these Coloradans in their homes and out of other, more expensive social services programs.
· “Jessica’s Law” brings our state in line with a national initiative to impose mandatory minimum sentences for those who commit violent sexual assaults against children. The new law, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote (D-Lafayette), imposes sentences of 24 years to life for class 2 felony assault on a child under the age of 13, 18 to life for class 3 felony assault on a child, and 10 to life for class 4 felony assault on a child. Under the old law, the most severe prison sentence for such offenses was 8 to 24 years.
· Colorado women gain legal standing to sue for damages if they miscarry because of the malicious or reckless actions of others. The new law, sponsored by Reps. Pettersen and Foote, builds on a 2013 law that imposed criminal penalties for unlawful termination of pregnancy. The new law allows civil actions by women whose pregnancies are terminated by intentional or reckless acts.
· Colorado’s brick-and-mortar businesses get a more level playing field against out-of-state online retailers. A new law, sponsored by Reps. Lois Court (D-Denver) and Angela Williams (D-Denver), expands the types of business activities that require a company to collect and remit state sales taxes for their sales in Colorado, ending those companies’ 2.9 percent to 10.4 percent price advantage over Colorado businesses that must charge sales tax. The new law will support Colorado businesses, create Colorado jobs and add vibrancy to retail areas across the state.