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March 29, 2024

House Advances Budget to Support K-12 Schools, Hardworking Families

2024-25 state budget includes significant investments to fully fund K-12 education, boost funding for higher education, behavioral health care services, support for those with disabilities and Colorado’s state parks

DENVER, CO – The House today advanced the FY 2024-2025 Long Appropriations Bill to invest in families, prepare our students for success, and build healthier communities across the state.

“Our balanced budget provides historic K-12 public school funding of more than $525 million, importantly buys down the budget stabilization factor and addresses the most pressing needs of our communities,” said JBC Chair Shannon Bird, D-Westminster. “I’m proud that we are making higher education more affordable for middle-income students by capping tuition increases and ramping up financial aid support. This bipartisan budget will improve inpatient behavioral and mental health care outcomes and fund services and programs relied upon by community members with an intellectual or developmental disability. Together, we’re committed to helping more Coloradans have the opportunity they deserve to thrive.”

“This is an exciting day for Colorado! We’re one step closer to meeting our commitment to our students with record levels of K-12 public school funding and increased support for early childhood education,” said JBC member Emily Sirota, D-Denver. "This budget fully funds special education for the first time, increases pay for health care and universal preschool providers, saves people money on housing, and bolsters critical services for people with disabilities. This budget puts families first and fosters a stronger state for everyone.”

The state’s $40.6 billion budget is a 3.7-percent increase over last year’s budget. This budget, HB24-1430, includes a total of $58.6 million to save people money on housing and boost education and workforce efforts.  


Preparing Students for Success 

Fully Funding Colorado’s K-12 Schools: After years of responsible budgeting and planning, this year’s Long Bill eliminates the Budget Stabilization Factor (BSF), which has restricted funding for Colorado's K-12 public education funding for more than a decade.

As outlined in the 2024-25 Long Bill, the total funding for public schools will increase by more than $500 million, including an increase in per-pupil funding by $736 per student, bringing the total per-pupil amount to $11,406 - the largest in state history. Final action on per pupil funding, and total program funding will come later in the session through the annual School Finance Act

Fully Funding Special Education for the First Time: To make it easier for every learner to succeed, this budget increases special education funding for students with disabilities by 10.2-percent or $34.7 million. This brings the state’s total investment in special education funding for students with disabilities to $375.5 million. 

Supporting English Language Learners and New Arrival Students: This budget outlines an increase in funding of 10.6-percent or $3.3 million to help our students become proficient in the English language. Additionally, to help our school districts across the state support and meet the needs of the influx of new students, this budget includes an appropriation of $24.0 million from the State Education Fund to be distributed directly to schools as quickly as possible (HB24-1389).

Providing Mental Health Resources for Students: To help our learners succeed and access the mental and behavioral health services they need, this budget creates the School-Based Mental Health Support Program. This $2.5 million program will help our students enhance their social, emotional or behavioral well-being and support students going through adjustment periods (HB24-1406).

Supporting At-Risk Students: To create pathways for each and every student to succeed in school, this budget allocates $1.16 million more for at-risk students to better support those with a higher probability of not graduating K-12 schooling. 

Capping Tuition Hikes, Boosting Funding for Higher Education, Supporting College Students: This budget caps tuition hikes at 3-percent for in-state students and 4-percent for non-resident students. The budget also boosts funding by $114.3 million to help our higher education institutions streamline services and operational support. Additionally, this budget sets aside $26.6 million in the General Fund for aligned financial aid support and $1.67 million in funding to provide assistance to students experiencing homelessness during high school. Students can use this funding to assist with housing, tuition, fees and textbooks (HB24-1403).

Support for Early Childhood and Families 

Supporting Universal Preschool: Universal preschool (UPK) has saved families thousands of dollars and helped prepare our youngest learners for success. This year’s budget includes an increase of $65.5 million toward the UPK program, specifically for provider payments, quality improvement initiatives and improvements to the online application process.

Increasing Funding for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program: To help our families find child care options in their budget, this legislation includes a $21.1 million increase toward the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program which connects low-income families to child care options.

Boosting Pay for Early Childhood Professionals: This budget includes a 2-percent increase ($4.9 million) to community providers including early childhood mental health service providers, social workers, family resource centers staff and early childhood educators.

New, In-Home Support for New Mothers: To provide all-around services to our state’s new mothers, this budget includes a $2.8 million increase to support a universal home visiting pilot program which will offer comprehensive in-home evaluations and supportive follow-up visits to new mothers and infants. Funding will support births at certain hospitals in ten counties including Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Eagle, Garfield, Jefferson, Pitkin, Summit, Weld, and Mesa counties.

Streamlining the Child Lead Testing Program: Everyone deserves clean water to drink. To help combat and prevent childhood lead poisoning across the state, the budget invests $1.2 million for testing and outreach to alert families to specific hazards. 

Creating Healthier, Stronger Communities

Boosting Pay for Health Care Providers: This budget outlines a 2-percent across the board community provider rate increase and $198 million for targeted provider rate increases following recommendations from the Medicaid Provider Rate Review Advisory Committee (MPRRAC). This applies to Medicaid providers, preschool and childcare providers, social services providers, independent living centers, local public health agencies, services in the Department of Corrections, and other private and nonprofit organizations that provide various services. 

Improving Colorado’s Competency Process: To help improve Colorado’s competency process, this budget allocates $68.2 million to maintain and increase existing resources for inpatient competency restoration services. This funding will be used to address staffing needs and provide additional support.

Increasing Funding for Nutrition Assistance: The budget includes a $16.9 million investment to meet the increased demand for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), so Coloradans can access and purchase healthy foods. The budget invests a further $3M in food banks and local food pantries to reduce food insecurity (HB24-1407).

Maintaining Strong Public Health Infrastructure: To help us maintain the strong state public health operations Colorado developed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget includes a $11 million investment in Local Public Health Agencies to help them continue to support our communities. The budget also includes a $5.6 million investment to maintain the strong state operations in the Division of Disease Control and Public Health to combat existing and new public health threats. 


Supporting People with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD): To reduce the growing waitlist for services and ensure our neighbors with IDD can receive the support and services they need when they need it, this budget increases IDD support by $5.6 million. This funding will be directed toward an additional 129 treatment placements for residential Adult Comprehensive Services.

Boosting Grant Resources for Coloradans with a Disability: To ensure our neighbors with a disability have the support they need, this budget outlines a $5.1 million increase to help fund grants operated by the Laura Hershey Disability Support Act which provides education, direct assistance, and advocacy for people with disabilities.

Protecting Critical Health Care Services:

  • Funding for Popular I Matter Program: The successful I Matter program provides free therapy sessions to our youth under 18-years and younger. The budget includes $6 million to keep this program going. 

  • Medicaid Support: To ensure that those who need Medicaid coverage can receive it, the budget includes $21.7 million to support and provide additional flexibility in eligibility determinations associated with the end of the Medicaid continuous coverage requirements during the federal public health emergency. 

  • Support for Children and Youth in the Foster Care System: $15.3 million to help our youth in the foster care system with complex behavioral health care needs get the treatment and services they need to succeed.

  • Health Centers for Uninsured Coloradans: $13 million to support Federally Qualified Health Centers and other primary care providers where at least 50-percent of the patients served are uninsured or medically indigent.

  • Develop the Office of the Children’s Behavioral Health Statewide System of Care: To create a continuum of care for our youth, this budget sets aside $2.1 million to create a new program within the Behavioral Health Administration to develop and implement a comprehensive children’s behavioral health care system.

Increasing Veteran Support: To support those who’ve served our nation, the budget includes a $500,000 increase to the Veterans Assistance Grant Program which improves social, health and community services to Colorado’s veteran population. 

Boosting Support for New Americans: The budget includes more than $119,000 to expand the Office of New Americans which will help manage grants, coordinate with other entities, and identify opportunities for new migrant career pathway enhancements. 

Safer Communities

Boosting Staffing for Public Defenders: To help Colorado’s public defenders meet the needs of our criminal justice system and reduce caseloads, this budget outlines $11.5 million and a 9-percent increase year-over-year to fund 50 new attorneys, 42 support staff, and 11 social workers. 

Combatting Auto Theft and Other Crime Prevention: To help keep our communities safer, the budget outlines a $8 million increase in funding toward grants to reduce and prevent auto theft. The budget also includes $1.1 million for state forensic resources vital to auto theft cases and $3 million for local crime prevention grants under the Multidisciplinary Crime Prevention and Crisis Intervention program (HB24-1421).

Crime Victim Services Funding: Those involved in domestic violence situations or other life-altering crimes often need support. This budget invests $4 million in the Colorado Crime Victim Services Fund to support victims of crime, their families and children (HB24-1420).

Improving Emergency Response: To help our first responders reach those in need, this budget includes a $1.2 million investment to prove the Colorado Team Awareness Kit (COTAK). This mobile app will allow first responders to track and map their locations and improve the coordination of emergency response. 

Enhancing Security at Non-Profits: Nonprofits, such as synagogues and mosques, are facing an increase in threats. This budget includes an increase of more than $906,000 to the Colorado Nonprofit Security Grant Program to help them ramp up physical security at their buildings.

Investments for Parks, Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation, Water Resources and Environment

Strengthening Underfunded Parks & Wildlife Operations: To protect, maintain and make our state’s most awe-inspiring public parks more accessible this budget includes a $5.7 million investment to fund 45 new staff positions to strengthen several Division of Parks and Wildlife operations, including wildlife management, species conservation, fish hatchery operations, counter-poaching efforts, and the maintenance, management, and services necessary to serve the growing number of visitors to Colorado state parks.

Spearheading Environmental Justice for Impacted Communities: To improve health outcomes for communities disproportionately impacted by pollution, the budget allocates $2.8 million in funding to create the Office of Health Equity and Environmental Justice. 

Protecting Water Rights & Resources: To protect our valuable freshwater resources, this bill includes more than $237,000 to monitor and address national or regional developments that may affect our water supply. The goal is to defend Colorado’s water rights as well as conserve and preserve our water resources. 


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