More money to address rising crime, combat homelessness and boost education tops Gov. Jared Polis' annual budget wish list.
Driving the news: The roughly $40 billion proposal released Monday includes an 8% increase in discretionary spending from the general fund, sets aside millions for taxpayer refunds and keeps $2 billion unspent as a 15% reserve.
Why it matters: The infusion of one-time federal stimulus dollars, as well as excess state revenue, means lawmakers have billions to allocate — upwards of 10 times the discretionary spending for a typical year, budget writers say.
Between the lines: Polis' budget document is particularly colored by politics this year because it covers the final year of his first term in the governor's office.
- Moreover, he prioritized spending on areas he's overlooked in prior years and those that drew the loudest criticism from Republicans.
By the numbers: Polis sprinkled the money across all areas of the budget, but the state intervention to address rising crime and homelessness at the local level stood out.
- $113 million would go toward public safety programs that the governor said would "make a real dent in reducing crime."
- $200 million would help augment local programs to address homelessness, including drug treatment programs.
In addition, Polis will put $150 million toward the state's debt to school districts — known as the negative factor — and increase per pupil spending by $526 to its highest-ever level.
What he's saying: Polis emphasized the historic extra money available and said the "budget represents Colorado's next chapter."
Be smart: The governor's budget is just a proposal. Colorado legislators control the purse strings and write the annual spending plan each year, often omitting significant spending desired by the governor.
The bottom line: But lawmakers agree this is a consequential moment. "This will be one of the most impactful budget years in the history of the state," said state Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, a budget writer.
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