Polis emphasizes homelessness and rising crime in budget plan
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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