Strong CO Budget Survives GOP Onslaught

(March 28) – During a marathon 10-hour session that just beat a midnight deadline, the House of Representatives cast a series of voice votes late tonight to approve a state budget package for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

“We had an unusual number of amendments and we’ll have to reconcile some budget-balancing issues,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, the chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee. “But the core elements of the budget remain: big wins for transportation and education and a strong step toward reform of PERA.”

On the state budget, HB18-1322, House Democrats turned aside Republican amendments to:

  • Eliminate $1.5 billion, with a B, in healthcare support for low-income Coloradans
  • Deny contraceptive coverage to low-income Colorado women
  • Bust the budget by spending $150 million more on education without any source of funding
  • Double down on reckless budgeting by reducing the state’s statutory reserve fund by 1.5 percentage points or $167 million, despite the increasing risk of recession
  • Ignore inflation and population growth and starve the rest of the budget to the tune of more than $340 million in across-the-board cuts

The biggest additional appropriation enacted on the floor on Wednesday was a $35 million sum for school safety improvements, pushing the total additional funds for K-12 education past $600 million.

Also approved was a satellite bill, HB18-1340, appropriating $495 million for transportation projects around the state. Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, passed an amendment to set aside 50 percent of the total for county and municipal government to repair and upgrade local roads, and an additional 15 percent to empower local communities to problem-solve.

“We committed to transportation and education as our highest priorities coming into the session, and we are delivering on those commitments,” Speaker Duran said. “This budget will produce benefits for families all around Colorado.”

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