Lawmakers tackle State Budget in better economic climate

Legislators have begun reviewing SB 230, the state budget bill called the “Long Bill,” as the state’s economy continues to improve. Next year’s state budget will be about $1 billion larger than the current year’s because of increased tax revenues. State officials say job growth is strong, though the unemployment rate is not declining as rapidly as desired and more than $1 billion in across-the-board federal government cuts are expected to negatively impact our state’s economic growth.

Unlike states where the Governor initiates the state budget bill,  this is the job of the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC) in Colorado. The bipartisan committee’s six members create the annual appropriations bill for state government operations. JBC members include three from the Senate Appropriations Committee and three from the House Appropriations Committee.

This year’s JBC members are Sen. Pat Steadman (D-Denver), Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton), Sen. Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs), Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), and Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-Evergreen). Sen. Steadman chairs the JBC; Rep. Levy is the vice-chair.

The Long Bill review should not be as painful as the same review was in each of the last four years when state tax revenues tanked during the recession and the Legislature had to slash budgets. The state’s improved fiscal health means more money for many state programs. P-12 could see an increase of about three percent, though this is far short of the money needed to fully apply Amendment 23, the constitutional provision requiring annual increases for education.

The Long Bill includes about $30 million more in support for Colorado’s public colleges and universities, bringing the state’s support up to about one-quarter of total higher education spending, most of which is funded through student tuition. It appears there will be more money for higher education construction and maintenance, as well.

The Senate deals with the Long Bill this week, followed by consideration by the House the week of April 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Explore posts in the same categories: Colorado Legislature, Higher Education, higher education tuition, K-12 Funding, School Funding, State Budget

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