DENVER, CO– The House today passed two Colorado Comeback bills that will create jobs and help Colorado recover stronger by investing in workforce development initiatives and by improving our state parks.
HB21-1330, which is sponsored by Representative Julie McCluskie and Naquetta Ricks and passed by a vote of 44-19, uses federal funds to provide a $50 million boost to the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative. The funding will increase access to robust pathways for workers to obtain news skills, earn higher wages and be prepared for the in-demand careers of the future.
The bill seeks to rebuild and revitalize the state’s workforce by supporting students to complete their postsecondary credentials. The funding boost will be used to reverse the significant decline in enrollment in public higher education institutions, high rates of job loss and continuing unemployment, and the overall disruption to the workforce caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill also provides $1.5 million in grant funding to school districts to increase the number of students who complete Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) student aid applications before graduating high school.
“The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative is a proven program that helps students and workers enter into and successfully complete postsecondary degree or certified skills training programs,” said Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “With this bill, we are going to invest $50 million into the COSI program so that more workers and students can learn the skill and tools they’ll need to fill good jobs, build thriving careers, and boost our state’s economy.”
HB21-1326, which is sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan and Perry Will and passed by a vote of 52-10, would invest $25 million in federal funds to improve Colorado state parks. The bill provides:
$750,000 to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center to support backcountry avalanche safety programs;
$3.5 million to the Division of Parks and Wildlife to implement its statewide wildlife action plan and the conservation of native species;
$2.25 million to the search and rescue fund for use by the Department of Local Affairs in consultation with the division to support backcountry search and rescue efforts;
$1 million to the outdoor equity fund for use by the division to implement the outdoor equity grant program;
$17.5 million for state park staffing and maintenance and infrastructure and development projects.
“Coloradans love our state parks, and both residents and folks from out of state are visiting and recreating in our parks more and more every year,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “The growth in visitors has led to environmental and conservation issues, as well as strain on park infrastructure. This funding will both repair and maintain existing parks while also making necessary improvements to support the growth we have experienced and expect to continue.”