Mar 28, 2022 - News

Colorado's unprecedented budget bill debuts at Legislature

Illustration of the Colorado State Capitol with lines radiating from it.
Photo Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: DivInc

Colorado lawmakers are introducing a roughly $40 billion spending package today that is inflated by billions in federal stimulus dollars.

Why it matters: The budget bill for the fiscal year starting July 1 is the one piece of legislation that needs to get approved each session, and the one-time infusion of federal money will significantly raise the stakes in this year's debate.

What to know: The Democratic-drawn legislation includes hundreds of millions for the priorities requested by Gov. Jared Polis, and it will draw vocal objections from Republicans who wanted larger tax breaks and less spending.

  • In one of the final decisions made by the Joint Budget Committee, the majority party set aside $700 million to fund its agenda — addressing air pollution, improving public safety and offering businesses a small break on state fees.
  • The two GOP committee members voted against the motion.

The other side: State Sen. Bob Rankin, a Republican budget writer, objected to spending most of the one-time money all at once, particularly on Democratic priorities and bills his party didn't help craft.

  • He argued more money should go toward education and reducing the state's massive debt to school districts, known as the negative factor.

What they're saying: State Rep. Julie McCluskie, the committee's Democratic chairperson, pushed back by saying these are the right priorities and using one-time money on ongoing expenses like education is not prudent.

What to watch: The budget debate is expected to begin Wednesday in the state House after lawmakers draft dozens of amendments.

  • The Senate will consider the package next week.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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