Here’s what the state’s $26.8 billion budget proposal means for Coloradans
The bill represents a 4 percent increase from the current budget
Colorado lawmakers introduced a $26.8 billion state budget bill Monday that offers a modest increase in state employee salaries and education spending at the expense of cuts to hospitals and other programs.
The spending measure for the fiscal year that begins July 1 represents a 4 percent increase from the current budget and came together after significant consternation about how to address the state’s fiscal crunch.
The state Senate will hold the first votes on Senate Bill 254 and related budget measures Wednesday, and the attention will be on who gets the $10.6 billion in discretionary spending.
Here is a look at what the Colorado state budget could mean to you:
If you are an average taxpayer …
The total budget package is listed at $28.3 billion, but the number includes double-counted dollars shifted between state agencies and excludes another $183 million in spending on state construction projects. So the total spending is closer to $26.8 billion.
Unlike Congress, Colorado lawmakers are required to present a balanced budget, and the Joint Budget Committee — comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans — scrambled to close a roughly $400 million budget hole when revenues didn’t match spending priorities.
One maneuver eliminated the need for TABOR refunds in 2018. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limits state spending growth and requires excess revenue to go back to taxpayers. For 2018, the refund was projected to range from $23 to $526 for single filers.
One reason the state exceeded the revenue limit is a fee paid by Colorado hospitals. So budget writers lowered the fees, which brought the state under the TABOR cap and eliminated the need for refunds.
Read the full story in The Denver Post.
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Colorado has been hit with a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, with one in 41 residents believed to be contagious. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned during a virtual news conference that Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.