Governor Polis Presents FY2021-22 Budget to Joint Budget Committee

Gov. Polis Budget Calls for Investments to Restore Major Reductions, Stimulate State’s Economy & Prepare for the Future

DENVER, CO (STL.News) Governor Jared Polis presented his budget proposal for FY 2021-22 to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) of the General Assembly, including a stimulus package for the current fiscal year FY 2020-21.

“We don’t just want to get back to where we were before the pandemic – we want to build back even stronger.  Which is why this budget makes strategic investments to ensure we are more inclusive and more resilient.  We need to be creative to find the ways to get the help to those who need it when they need it most and this budget is prudent and increases reserves for the uncertainty ahead,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “These times dictate urgency and we must continue building on our shared values of saving people money on health care, investing in education, fire resiliency, expanding renewable energy, and protecting our way of life.”

This budget includes three key elements that will help boost Colorado’s economy and make critical investments in the state’s future:

  • Restoring major reductions made to key areas in FY 2020-21 and ensuring essential services across government
  • Economic stimulus that will bridge the gap to recovery and help Colorado build back stronger
  • Saving for the future

Gov. Polis thanked the members of the committee for the opportunity to present the administration’s budget proposal and also congratulated the newest member of the JBC — Rep. Leslie Herod as well as Sen. Chris Hansen who has returned to the committee.

The Governor’s budget proposal includes numerous items focused on stimulating the state’s economy,helping hardworking people get ahead and make critical investments in Colorado’s future.

Restoring Major Reductions and Ensuring Essential Services

  • Restores and increases per pupil funding for education by $902 and returns the Budget Stabilization Factor to the FY 2019-20 level of $572M, leaving the funding gap at a nearly 11-year low of 6.6%
  • Restores funding for higher education institutions to FY 2019-20 level and maintains financial aid for students who need it
  • Restores funding for the PERA direct distribution to protect pensions for public servants
  • Funds caseload needs in Medicaid and human services

Economic Stimulus that will help Colorado Recover Faster and Build Back Stronger

  • In total, this package includes $1.3 billion to help support local businesses, put Coloradans back to work and invest in the state’s future. These are targeted proposals with a high economic impact and strategic investments to help Colorado recover stronger and more quickly.
  • Colorado is distributing one-time direct payments of $375 to 435,000 hardworking Coloradans that have low and mid income.  Those payments will go out in early December.
  • The Governor is also proposing $105 million in tax relief and direct aid for restaurants, bars, and other small businesses hit by capacity restrictions.
  • $220 million to create create jobs by investing in shovel ready public works and infrastructure projects
  • $160 million to invest in broadband infrastructure to enable business, education and health care
  • $140 million to invest in our workforce and incentivize business growth in Colorado
  • $200 million placeholder for one-time investments/stimulus priorities identified by the legislature

Saving for Colorado’s Future

  • General Fund reserves from 2.86% to 10% for FY 2021-22
  • Carries forward $1.26 billion to reduce the forecasted deficit in FY 2022-23 and protect against future uncertainty
  • Proposes a responsible savings package of $422 million ($272 million General Fund).

In addition to these three key elements, the Governor’s budget also outlines other critical investments the state is proposing.

Furthering the Commitment to Build a Colorado for All

  • $30 million in FY 2020-21 in grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to improve access to startup capital for historically underserved entrepreneurs through the Colorado Startup Loan Fund.
  • $4 million to the Minority Business Office to increase programming and create a Strategic Fund for direct grants, and $1 million to address health inequities among Medicaid members.
  • Building on the historic legislation passed this year in SB 20-217, this budget invests $3.7 million to expand the use of body cameras for local jurisdictions.

Bolstering Education and Early Childhood Education

  • The impacts of the pandemic have hit those without a four-year degree the hardest.  This budget request protects funding for state-funded financial aid ($215.6 million) and restores critical operating funds to our public institutions of higher education ($852.0 million) while seeking to ensure that tuition increases are capped at 3% statewide during this challenging time for Colorado students
  • This budget invests $10 million in innovation and transformation to improve operational efficiency at Colorado colleges and universities as they adapt to the unique challenges of the pandemic

Increasing Access to Health Care & Behavioral Health

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequalities in America’s health care system and the Polis administration remains committed to saving people money on health care.
  • The Reinsurance Program continues to deliver significant savings for Coloradans buying individual health insurance.  For 2021, the Reinsurance Program will save consumers in the individual market across Colorado an average of 20.8% over what premiums would have been without the program, and up to 38% on the Western Slope and in southwest Colorado
  • Increased funding for telehealth services and ease of accessibility of behavioral health services, and to integrate behavioral health programs into existing infrastructure to provide significant efficiencies
  • $100 million to provide Coloradans critical services to combat substance use disorders and opioid addiction beginning January 2021

Investing in Cleaner Air & Fire Prevention and Mitigation to Address Climate Change

  • Gov. Polis Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap lays out concrete, sector-specific pathways to make progress towards science-based emission reductions targets
  • $40 million for clean energy finance programs to grow the economy, improve air quality, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and $5 million for the Clean Energy Challenge for local governments to invest in green infrastructure.  This solution leverages additional dollars in partnership with OEDIT and CEO as the State focuses on Renewable and Clean energy projects which drive community and economic development
  • This budget includes a request to create an innovative new Climate Resilience Office at the Department of Agriculture as well as new investments in programs which ensure an equitable and just transition from a coal based economy
  • Enhancing State Park Capacity:  The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration helped us out of the Great Depression and left us legacies such as Red Rocks.

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