House Invests in Schools, State Parks, Wildfire Prevention, and More

DENVER, CO- Today the House Approved the Joint Budget Committee’s (JBC) mid year funding package on third reading. The crucial set of 21 funding bills makes much needed mid-year investments in education, wildfire prevention, main street revitalization, and much more. 

  • “To build our state back stronger than before, we must make thoughtful and precise investments in our communities,” said JBC Vice Chair Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “Today we did right by our school districts and state parks, and ensured that our purchase of a firehawk helicopter better prepares us for wildfire seasons to come. The pandemic has taken a toll on our schools and educators and put our state parks through the ringer as more and more people took to the outdoors to recreate. Boosting resources for the schools that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic while also making investments in our state park infrastructure was exactly the right thing to do.” 
  • “Today we made important investments in the Colorado comeback,” said JBC Member Leslie Herod, (D-Denver). “By channeling funds towards mainstreet revitalization and giving a leg up to entrepreneurs who have been disproportionately affected by unfair drug laws, we’re boosting local economies and ensuring small businesses can continue to grow. At the same time, we put millions towards a program that seeks to attract innovative, job-creating industries to the state. I’m determined to build Colorado back stronger than before.” 

SB21-042, sponsored by Representative Julie McCluskie, invests in job creation by appropriating $10 million to the Advanced Industries Acceleration Cash Fund, which provides incentives for Colorado’s seven advanced industries to either move to or expand their operations in Colorado, including incentives for the biosciences industry performing a critical role in the state’s public health recovery. It also provides $15 million to the Colorado Economic Development Fund with the purpose of attracting large corporate headquarters to Colorado or supporting other efforts to create new jobs and bolster the economy. The bill passed third reading by a vote of 42-21.

SB21-112, sponsored by Representative Julie McCluskie, would provide badly needed funding to help increase capacity at our state parks and improve our park infrastructure so Coloradans can continue to enjoy them. The bill moves $20 million from the General Fund to the Capital Construction Fund and designates the funds to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for state parks infrastructure development. The bill passed third reading by a vote of 48-15.

SB21-113, sponsored by Representative Julie McCluskie, will make crucial investments in Colorado’s firefighting response by providing $30 million to purchase a firehawk helicopter and to lease additional aviation resources for upcoming fire seasons. The bill passed by a vote of 59-4.

SB21-053, sponsored by Representatives Julie McCluskie and Barbara McLachlan, would buy down the Budget Stabilization Factor by $121 million and ensure that schools do not lose funding that otherwise would have been reduced due to pandemic-related enrollment decreases. In addition, the bill allocates an additional $85 million to districts in need, including $25 million to rural schools. Last week, Democrats on the Education Committee defeated a Republican proposal (HB21-1080) to voucherize Colorado Schools that would have cost over $660 million. The bill passed by a vote of 52-11.

  • “Colorado schools, students and parents have been through enough; we can’t let our schools lose funding right now because of pandemic-related enrollment drops. It’s time to build back stronger and put our students, teachers, and parents first,” said House Education Chair Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. 

SB21-111, sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and David Ortiz, appropriates $4 Million to OEDIT for the Marijuana Entrepreneur Program, which consists of three major components: Loans for social equity licensees for seed capital and ongoing costs, including but not limited to, rent, leases, application and licensing fees, regulatory adherence, testing, equipment, capital improvements, and training and retention of a qualified and diverse workforce; Grants for social equity licensees for support of job creation and innovation or for organizations that support innovation and job creation of social equity licensees; and Technical Assistance for marijuana entrepreneurs, with a preference for social equity licensees that have been provided a grant or loan under this program, which consists of business plan development and ongoing consulting services. The bill passed by a vote of 40-23.

  • “Colorado has created a thriving voter-approved, government regulated marijuana industry, but the economic gains forged by this industry have not reached all Coloradans,” said Rep. David Ortiz, (D-Littleton). “The communities that have been disproportionately impacted by unfair drug laws– drug laws that have largely been repealed– have not been able take part in the economic growth driven by our legal marijuana industry. This bill is about creating jobs, righting historic injustices and doing what we can to help communities who have been hit the hardest recover stronger.”

SB21-110, sponsored by Representatives Leslie Herod and Tony Exum, will transfer an additional $30 million in immediate economic stimulus to shovel-ready projects that will help revitalize main streets across Colorado. This funding will create jobs, sustain economies, and help Colorado build back stronger cities, towns, and other public agencies with creative modifications to state highways, local roadways, or other community spaces while promoting social distancing and economic activity. 

  • “Across our state, the revitalizing mainstreets program is creating jobs, improving critical infrastructure, and boosting rural economies,” said Transportation and Local Government Chair Tony Exum, (D-Colorado Springs). “These projects will spur new businesses, make our streets and sidewalks safer, and help local governments forge the towns and communities they want to see.” 

Since July 2020, CDOT has issued over 65 grants to communities across the state. Just some of these communities include: Alamosa, Bennet, Buena Vista, Boulder, Castle Rock, Colorado Springs, Durango, Estes Park, Fort Morgan, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Gunnison, Hugo, La Junta, Lake City, Lamar, Olathe, Ridgeway, Silt and Windsor. The bill passed by a vote of 40-23.