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.

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