Budget increases per pupil funding by nearly $570 per student, improves air quality, increases public safety funding and expands health insurance for children and pregnant women
DENVER, CO – The House today passed the Conference Report on the FY 2022-2023 Long Appropriations bill, sending the state budget to the governor for his signature.
“We’re making a record investment in K-12 public education that schools can use to reduce class sizes, increase teacher pay and prepare our students for success,” said JBC Chair Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “This budget increases funding for public safety and sets aside hundreds of millions to save Coloradans money as pandemic-induced inflation burdens families across our state. This balanced budget will prepare our students for success, support our economic recovery, save Coloradans money and move our state forward.”
“I’m proud that our balanced budget will increase funding for public schools and invest in air quality monitoring, which will prepare our students for success and improve our air,” said JBC member Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. “This budget will improve educational outcomes for at-risk and special education students and increase health care access for children and pregnant people to help close equity gaps that disproportionately impact Black and Brown Coloradans. This is a responsible budget that sets aside a record reserve to protect our state from any uncertainty that may lie ahead.”
Preparing Students for Success
Improving Public Schools: The budget increases funding for education by nearly $200 million, reducing the Budget Stabilization Factor to $321 million–the lowest it’s been since it was created. This record investment in K-12 education will increase funding for public schools and put more resources into classrooms. This responsible approach will direct record levels of support to public schools and ensure this increase is sustainable.
Statewide, schools will receive on average $569 more per student next year, which is over $14,000 more for a classroom of 25 students. Schools can use these additional resources to reduce classroom sizes, increase teacher pay, provide individualized support to help students learn, and ensure that students have what they need to thrive.
Saving Students Money on Higher Education: This budget supports our institutions of higher education amidst rising costs and the challenges of the pandemic. As tuition rises across the country, the budget saves students money by investing state dollars to keep tuition down. With an investment of $129 million, we are boosting financial aid and tuition assistance to save Colorado students and families money on their degrees.
Expanding Early Childhood Education: Universal preschool and expanded access to early childhood education will save parents thousands of dollars a year. The budget invests $6.5 million to fund the new department of early childhood to bring Colorado one step closer to offering universal preschool next year.
Fort Lewis, Aims, Colorado Mountain College: The budget funds discounted tuition for Coloradans living near Fort Lewis, Aims and Colorado Mountain Colleges. The budget increases funding for these institutions by over $2.5 million.
Saving Coloradans Money
Reducing Fees: The budget sets aside $157 million to reduce fees for businesses, as well as licensing fees for frontline workers including nurses, mental health professionals and teachers.
Boosting Rural Economies: The budget provides $10 million for economic development in rural communities by leveraging federal dollars.
Providing Property Tax Relief: The budget includes funding to save Coloradans money on their property taxes. Democrats have made it a goal this session to save people money, and with property values rising, we’re looking at an effort to save people money on property taxes.
Boosting Funding for Public Safety
Improving Investigations: The budget boosts the capabilities of the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to support local law enforcement departments in solving and preventing crimes. The budget implements a multi-year effort to increase the department’s funding to $15.3 million, including a nearly $6.8 million increase next year. This funding will go toward additional investigators, supervisors and forensic scientists to boost forensic labs, crime scene processing, and support to local law enforcement agencies.
Funding for Public Safety Legislation: The budget puts aside funding for legislation that will prevent crime and reduce recidivism. The bipartisan bills direct resources to support local law enforcement initiatives to recruit, train and retain a high quality, diverse law enforcement workforce through strategies such as tuition support, workforce mobility, enhanced curriculum, training, and mental health services. The public safety package also includes resources to improve school safety, reduce recidivism, prevent bias-motivated crimes and expand effective strategies like co-responder models and violence interrupter programs.
Protecting EMS and 9-1-1 Response Services: Counties in rural Colorado are at risk of losing EMS response services, while 9-1-1 operators across that state are feeling increased pressures and demands. This budget significantly increases funding by $7 million for EMS providers and increases staffing at 9-1-1 dispatchers to retain and recruit the staff they need to respond to community emergencies.
A Healthier Colorado:
Expanding Services for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: The budget increases funding for home and community based services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by $58.5 million.
Boosting Children’s Health: The budget increases funding for the Child Health Plan by $29.8 million, including an increase of $7.9 million for children and pregnant women enrolled in the program.
Increasing funding for Behavioral Health: In addition to the $450 million behavioral health package moving through the legislature as a result of the bipartisan interim ARPA task force, the budget invests $54 million in behavioral health community programs. This funding provides for mental health and substance use disorder care for eligible Medicaid clients.
Improving Air Quality: The budget includes an increase of $43.4 million to improve Colorado’s air quality. Of this amount, $17.9 million will be used to increase air quality monitoring, establish an electric lawn equipment rebate program for public entities, and replace old monitoring equipment.
Ensuring a Responsible Budget Reserve: The budget sets aside a record reserve to protect Colorado from future changes to the budget forecast. This budget ensures responsible savings so Colorado will be protected from possible drastic changes to the economy. Saving responsibly to guard against future downturns and pre-paying for some key priorities protects the progress Colorado has made rebounding from COVID.
Investing in Capital Construction: The budget makes impressive investments in updates, expansions, or additions to facilities at public buildings and colleges and universities across the state. This includes improvements to the National Western Center at CSU, the agricultural facilities at the State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, the health sciences building at Pueblo Community College, Brendt Hall and the FLC Health Sciences Center at Fort Lewis, the Bowman Building at Lamar Community College, and library renovations at Trinidad State College.
Improving State Parks, Opening Sweetwater Lake: The budget boosts funding to support Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry and conservation, a key economic driver and job creator for the state and a core part of Coloradans’ quality of life. The budget includes a nearly $6 million increase for state park operations and wildlife conservation to open new trails, hire additional game wardens to assist park visitors and preserve Colorado’s beautiful outdoors. It also includes funding to help open the state’s newest park, Sweetwater Lake, in Western Colorado.
Investing in Transportation and Infrastructure: The initial funding from last year’s transformational investment in Colorado’s transportation system to save people money on their vehicle repairs is starting to flow to projects. The budget directs nearly $50 million in funding generated through SB21-260 to get critical road maintenance projects under way to reduce traffic and improve Colorado’s competitiveness with neighboring states, as well as to make much-needed investments in multimodal and clean energy transportation options to modernize Colorado’s state’s transportation system.