(Apr. 4) – After an extensive debate, the House of Representatives approved the state budget package on voice-vote for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2019. Earlier in the afternoon, Speaker KC Becker, Majority Leader Alec Garnett, and Joint Budget Committee members Rep. Daneya Esgar and Rep. Chris Hansen, reached a bipartisan agreement with the leadership of all four legislative caucuses on a total of $300 million in transportation funding.
“This is a responsible budget for all of Colorado,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo. “I’m confident that families and individuals will be well served by the responsible investments we are making in education, transportation and other priorities.”
“This is a balanced and carefully crafted budget that all Coloradans can feel proud of,” said Rep. Hansen, D-Denver. “Even while Washington pushes economically harmful trade wars, we were able to put forward a budget that invests in education, transportation and finally ensures kids and parents have access to full-day kindergarten.”
Highlights from SB19-207, the “long bill” approved today, include:
· A total increased investment in K-12 education of $335.9 million, including funding for the implementation of full-day kindergarten as well as a $77 million boost in the budget stabilization factor buy-down.
· An additional $120 million investment in higher education to keep tuition flat for Colorado’s college students.
· Adds $1 million to help expand critical family planning services.
· Funds an additional $5 million for 42 new inpatient psychiatric beds at Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP).
· Increases broadband deployment grants by $18.7 million.
· A $15.4 million placeholder for competency restoration (covers the state’s cost to reduce wait times for court-ordered mental-health evaluations).
· Adds $142,792 for management and maintenance costs for the new Veterans One-Stop (OneSource) Center in Grand Junction. The goal of the center is to improve services for Western Slope veterans by creating a hub for veterans’ organizations in the region. The facility will bring together, under one roof, multiple regional organizations that serve veterans’ needs.
· Adds $2.3 million cash funds for 20 new State Troopers and civilian staff to help make our roads safer.
· Approves 56 projects in the capital maintenance backlog, a $171 million investment for capital overall.
The “long bill” will receive a recorded vote at a later date.