April 2, 2012
(Denver) – The legislative Joint Budget Committee finished work today on the 2012-13 state budget, completing the apportionment of increased revenues with special attention to education and seniors.
Several highlights of the budget agreement completed today include:
· $57.2 million for the School Finance Act
· The elimination of $54.2 million in cuts to higher education
· $13.4 million to promote Colorado tourism
· $11.9 million to assist those in need of developmentally disabled services
· $9.7 million for services for low-income seniors
Already included was the restoration of the senior homestead property tax exemption, worth nearly $100 million.
Today’s action cleared the way for the introduction of the “long bill” in the House on Wednesday, April 4.
The big breakthrough came Thursday, when Republicans dropped their insistence on personnel cuts that would have meant layoffs of up to 500 state employees. Democrats said there was no need to cut personnel at a time when updated estimates showed a healthier Colorado economy and an additional $200 million in the state budget.
“This is a good budget with bipartisan support,” Rep. Levy said. “With an improved economic environment, we were fortunate to be able to take care of the primary needs we had all identified — education and vulnerable seniors.”
“This budget includes money for the senior homestead exemption, doesn’t use severance taxes to pay general fund obligations, restores K-12 education to last year’s level, and has money in it for tourism promotion and creative industries,” Sen. Hodge said. “I’m proud of the careful, deliberate way this committee worked through very diverse and divisive issues.”
“It’s been a difficult budget process, but with increasing revenues we’ve restored some of the cuts made in the past three years,” Sen. Steadman said. “There are a number of things in this budget that I’m proud of, things that reflect our values, like the expansion of developmentally disabled services, the senior homestead exemption, funding for low-income senior services, restored funding for tourism promotion and restored funding for the Governor’s Energy Office. We’ve protected vital human services and restored investments in Colorado’s future.”