(The Center Square) – Colorado’s Senate Democrats formally introduced the state’s budget bill for fiscal year 2021 budget on Monday.
The state’s budget is projected to be $34.1 billion, an 11% increase from the previous year despite the pandemic. It includes funding for one-time projects, relief measures for low-income Coloradans, and funding to "enhance" the state’s economic resiliency.
“Colorado, like the rest of the world, has been through so much during this pandemic, so it is a relief to finally see the storm breaking,” Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, said in a statement.
“I’m confident that the funding package we put together this year will ensure Colorado has an equitable recovery and a resilient foundation,” he continued.
Senate Democrats said approximately 80% of the budget will be allocated to Colorado’s “big six” departments: the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, the Department of Education, the Department of Higher Education, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Corrections, and the Judicial Department.
Financing priorities include $480.3 million to bolster K-12 school funding levels for the next two years and an additional $473 million for state institutions of higher education.
Another $327.1 million will be allocated to pay for state infrastructure and information technology projects. These include constructing the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, the Community College of Denver's Classroom and Conference Room Technology project, and various highway construction projects.
The proposed budget would invest $124 million on transportation projects in 2021. Lawmakers said the appropriation would help fill the $130 million gap in funding created by COVID-19 in 2020.
The budget bill also includes $800 million that's part of the state's bipartisan stimulus plan.
Colorado was forced to absorb nearly $4 billion in reduced financial resources in 2020 because of the pandemic. To balance the state’s budget, lawmakers cut over $1.3 billion from the state education coffers and an additional $130 million from transportation.
The Colorado Senate GOP reaffirmed that it's focused on the economy, education, and funding transportation.
“Senate Republicans remain committed to ensuring our state prioritizes jobs, students, and our roads and bridges in this year's budget,” Sage Naumann, spokesperson for the Colorado Senate GOP, told The Center Square.
“No pet projects, no experiments, no social engineering. Let's help the businesses our government regulations hurt, let's catch our students up, and let's make a legitimate investment in our roads and bridges without raising taxes or fees,” he added.
The budget bill will appear before the Senate Committee of the Whole on Thursday.