‘Long bill’ now goes to conference committee
(Apr. 5) – The House of Representatives approved the state budget package for fiscal year 2019-20, which will begin on July 1, 2019. Yesterday, 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.
“We are proud to put forward a responsible bipartisan budget that works for all of Colorado,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo, vice-chair of the JBC. “Hardworking families and individuals will be well served by the historic investments we are making in education, transportation, mental and behavioral health and other priorities.”
“Coloradans can be proud of this carefully balanced and comprehensive budget,” said Rep. Hansen, D-Denver. “While some in Washington push economically destructive trade wars, my colleagues and I were able to put forward a budget that makes historic, bipartisan investments in education, transportation and 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.
“I thank the members of the JBC for their work on this responsible, bipartisan budget that will help invest in our future, expand opportunity for hardworking people in every corner of our state and enhance our unique quality of life,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “We’re making significant investments in education, higher-ed, transportation and other top priorities.”
The “long bill” also includes: 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 bipartisan bill was approved on a vote of 42-22. The “long bill” now goes to joint conference committee.