(March 29) – The House of Representatives voted 42-22 today to approve the state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“Our strong economy has made our job easier, allowing us to make new investments in education, infrastructure and a variety of other priorities that have been denied or underfunded for many years,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, chairwoman of the legislative Joint Budget Committee.
“Finally we have a budget that Coloradans all around the state can feel good about,” said Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, who also sits on the JBC. “Our years of workforce and economic development work in the legislature are paying off in the strength of our Colorado economy, one of the strongest in the nation.”
With the latest economic forecasts showing continued economic strength in Colorado and a resulting boost in state revenues, HB18-1322, the “long bill” approved today, allocates an additional:
· $606 million for education, including $266 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; $36 million for school safety; and $10 million to address the teacher shortage.
· $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
· $137 million for capital development on state-owned buildings and property
· $12 million for the Child Care Assistance Program, to reduce waiting lists and expand access to child care for hardworking Colorado families
· $11 million for solutions coming out of the legislative working group on our state prison system
· $6 million for legislation to address the opioid addiction epidemic in Colorado
· $1 million to restore full funding to the Colorado Civil Rights Division
Most notable among the 18 “orbital” bills moving along with the “long bill” is HB18-1340, which appropriates $495 million to fix Colorado’s crumbling, overburdened transportation systems, including dedicated money for county and municipal governments across the state to address their own local issues.
“We have a budget package that’s good for hard-working Coloradans who are tired of being stuck in traffic on the way to work; for students and educators tired of overcrowded classrooms in deteriorating schools; for Coloradans in cities, suburbs and rural areas,” said Speaker Crisanta Duran. “This is truly a budget we can all be proud of.”
The “long bill” package is off to the state Senate.