(March 23) – After a series of votes to address a wide variety of high-priority needs, the Joint Budget Committee today finalized its draft of the state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“Our strong economy is allowing us to invest in education, infrastructure and a variety of other priorities that have been bottled up for many years,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, chairwoman of the JBC, after the committee voted 6-0 to approve the budget. “I’m happy that the JBC has followed through on its commitment to bipartisan solutions that will produce benefits all across Colorado.”
On the heels of economic forecasts of continued strength in the Colorado economy and a boost in state revenues, the draft budget allocates an additional:
- $576.5 million for education, including $265.5 million to avoid growing the so-called “budget stabilization factor,” the state’s arrears to its public school districts; $150 million more to reduce the “budget stabilization factor,” the biggest buydown since what used to be called the “negative factor” was created in 2009; $114 million for our public colleges and universities; $30 million expressly for rural school districts; $10 million to address the teacher shortage; and $7 million for school safety.
- $495 million to fix Colorado’s crumbling, overburdened transportation systems
- $225 million to help cover the cost of efforts to ensure the long-term stability of PERA, the retirement fund for teachers and other public-sector employees
- $136.5 million for capital development on state-owned buildings and property
- $12.3 million for the Child Care Assistance Program, to reduce waiting lists and expand access to child care for hardworking Colorado families
- $11 million set aside for solutions coming out of the legislative working group on our state prison system
- $6.5 million set aside for legislation to address the opioid addiction epidemic in Colorado
Also included are 3 percent salary increases for state employees and an equivalent increase for providers of other services critical to the people of Colorado.
“This is one of the best budgets I’ve seen in my entire time in the legislature,” said Speaker Crisanta Duran, herself a former JBC chairwoman. “This budget delivers a huge win for Colorado students and teachers, who have been getting the short end of the stick for far too long. I’m also very pleased by our investment in transportation funding that supports Colorado’s population growth and increasing prosperity.”
“In my opening day speech I said our priorities were transportation and education, and that we should honor the commitment we made to our teachers, state troopers and snowplow drivers,” Speaker Duran continued. “This budget delivers on our commitments to hardworking Colorado families.”
“No budget is perfect, but we can be proud of the work we’ve done together,” said Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, who also sits on the JBC. “This is my fourth state budget as a JBC member, but certainly the most impactful in response to our state’s most pressing needs.”
The “long bill” will be introduced in the House on Monday.