DENVER, CO — Joint Budget Committee Chair Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Representative Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, today released the following statements after the House passed the FY20-21 Long Bill (HB20-1360) by a vote of 41-23. Lawmakers have spent the last six weeks working to responsibly balance the budget and prioritize funding for education and critical health and safety services.
“This was a really difficult budget, and we had to make a lot of painful decisions,” said JBC Chair Esgar, D-Pueblo. “It’s not easy to govern and craft a balanced budget in these economically dire times. I’m proud of the way we came together to govern responsibly and protect our most vulnerable Coloradans as we prioritized funding for education and critical health and safety services. I am grateful for the tireless work of our nonpartisan staff, my colleagues on the Joint Budget Committee, and my colleagues in the House Democratic caucus that dug in to help find compassionate and responsible solutions to help our state overcome this crisis.”
“We had to make painful decisions on proposals for heartbreaking cuts to responsibly craft a budget that serves our most vulnerable and protects as much money as possible for K-12 education,” said JBC Member Rep. McCluskie, D-Dillon. “We rejected cuts that would devastate Coloradans with intellectual or developmental disabilities and kick children off their health insurance. It isn’t the budget we wanted to pass, but I’m proud of the work the JBC did to meet the needs of vulnerable Coloradans during this unprecedented and dire budget crisis.”
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a $3.3 billion budget shortfall. With Congress’s failure to provide additional relief to states, lawmakers were forced to cut over 20 percent of the budget that the legislature controls, which covers core state priorities such as K-12 education, higher education and critical health and safety services.
The House also passed HB20-1366, which makes significant reforms to the higher education funding formula. The product of months of stakeholding, the new formula focuses on student outcomes, helps secure the long-term sustainability of rural institutions and protects the rural economies that rely on public colleges and universities.