BUDGET INCLUDES RESOURCES TO IMPROVE COMMUNITY SAFETY, SHORE UP PUBLIC HEALTH, AMONG OTHER PRIORITIES
DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed the transformative FY 2023-2024 Long Bill into law.
The $38.5 billion budget is a $1.2 billion increase over last year’s budget. Two-thirds of that increase is attributable to the end of enhanced federal Medicaid match rates, which are expiring as the declared COVID public health emergency winds down and the state is stepping up to meet the ongoing need in the absence of these additional federal Medicaid funds.
“Balancing the state’s budget in a responsible and thoughtful manner is one of our most urgent priorities as a legislature, and I am pleased to say that this year’s budget hits the mark,” said JBC Chair Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada. “We’re delivering for Colorado families by making record investments in K-12 education, supporting our health care workers, and creating safer communities - all while keeping our state on solid financial footing. We’ve worked hard to create a balanced, thoughtful budget that funds the infrastructure we need to meet our obligations to our families and communities while helping ensure every Coloradan has what they need to thrive.”
“I’m pleased that Governor Polis has signed our bipartisan budget that responsibly invests in Colorado’s future and supports the services our constituents expect,” said JBC Vice Chair Shannon Bird, D-Westminster. “The Joint Budget Committee worked together to fund Colorado’s Universal Preschool program, increase resources for community-based behavioral health care, and to draw down federal funds to upgrade critical infrastructure around our state. I’m proud to deliver a budget that will boost our communities, support small businesses and invest in our schools.”
“This budget reflects our core Colorado values of opportunity, independence, and responsibility,” said JBC member Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village. “The investments we’re making today will prepare our students for success, increase our housing supply, respond to workforce needs, and lower the cost of health care for our Colorado families. All in a balanced budget that puts Colorado on a sound and sustainable fiscal path into the future.”
“The budget Governor Polis signed today prioritizes Colorado families and promotes a thriving economy,” said JBC member Emily Sirota, D-Denver. “I’m proud of the investments we’re making to support K-12 public schools, improve access to healthcare, and strengthen workforce programs and nutrition assistance for Colorado kids and families. We’re delivering on the needs of Coloradans throughout the state to protect critical services that help our communities thrive.”
The budget sets aside a total of $469 million in General Fund for one-time uses, including:
$103 million for workforce-related legislation including free credentials, math, scholarships, adult education, and concurrent enrollment
$221 million for housing related legislation, including property tax relief, land use, public-private partnerships, implementation of Prop 123
$16 million for other priorities such as the Rural Opportunity Office, line of duty loss fund, wildfire resources, & Prop 122 implementation
The budget maintains a 15 percent ($2.3 billion) General Fund reserve to prepare for the next economic downturn, and designates $543 million in cash assets for the constitutionally required State Emergency Reserve to pay for emergencies like wildfires or floods.
PREPARING STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS
Ensuring Colorado students receive the support they need is a key goal of the legislature, and this budget provides a record investment in our students. In this budget, total state and local funding for public schools will increase by $485 million, including a record increase in per-pupil funding by $900 per student with record investment to buy down the budget stabilization factor in the School Finance Act.
Democrats are also addressing higher education needs through a 10 percent year-over-year increase in higher education funding, totaling $137 million alongside a 5 percent cap on tuition increases.
Finally, this budget provides $18 million for facility schools and expansions of services for students with extremely severe and specialized needs, and $1 million for the School Transformation Grant Program, which trains and supports school leaders working to turn around academic performance in the state’s lowest performing schools.
CREATING HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES
Every Coloradan deserves to live a happy and healthy life. This budget includes a 3 percent provider rate increase, to help providers facing cost increases due to inflation and other factors and increased investment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) so Coloradans can access and purchase health foods. Further support for workers includes the new 5 percent across-the-board increase for state employees, ensuring a $15 minimum wage for every state employee.
The budget also includes funding to implement the Office of Behavioral Health, and $3.8 million to bolster staffing and operating expenses to implement a statewide media campaign to increase routine immunization rates through the use of a mobile clinic program.
WILDFIRE MITIGATION & WATER CONSERVATION
Wildfire season lasts year-round in Colorado, and this budget provides badly-needed support to help our state better address and investigate wildfires. The budget provides $26 million to fund the acquisition of a second Firehawk helicopter which will improve the state’s ability to respond to catastrophic wildfires.
In order to better understand the origins of wildfires in our state, the budget also includes $3.2 million to increase resources for fire investigation and data collection as well as funding for forest restoration.
The budget also includes a $12.6 million investment toward the state Water Plan and funding to secure the state’s negotiation position and implementation of our interstate commitments related to the Colorado River.
IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY
Democrats are committed to creating safer communities across our state. The budget provides $5 million for the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Program, $2 million to create a new Office of School Safety, and $6 million for the School Security Disbursement Program.
The budget also increases pay for Criminal Investigators and State Patrol Troopers.
Additional priorities funded in the budget include:
$75,000 to the Department of Public Health and Environment for suicide prevention by providing mental health first aid training for students
$4 million in funding for the Community Crime Victims Grant Program in the Department of Public Health and Environment
$500,000 for family planning
$8 million for the Colorado Crime Victim Services Fund
$500,000 for the Colorado Wildlife Safe Passages Fund within the Department of Transportation
$1 million Department of Human Services for outreach related to SNAP
$500,000 for the Tony Grampsas Program
$1 million to supplement funding for Denver Health, and another $1 million for Colorado’s rural hospitals
$2 million to fund a co-responder program within the Behavioral Health Administration
$500,000 in funding for the Veterans Assistance Grant Program in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
$100,000 for the Wildfire Capacity Mitigation Development Fund
$10 million Reinsurance Program Cash Fund in the Department of Regulatory Agencies
$18.2 million in funding for additional capital projects across the state