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State Budget is Finalized: Restoring Cuts, Targeting Relief, & Investing in Colorado’s Future

SB21-205 now heads to the Governor’s desk after receiving final approval from the Senate, House, & Joint Budget Committee

DENVER, CO - Today, with strong bipartisan support, the Senate gave final approval for this year’s state budget, SB21-205. After the Joint Budget Committee convened a conference committee to review bill changes, the General Assembly entered ultimate concurrence.  

“The final version of this legislation is the result of months of hard work from both sides of the aisle, and I am incredibly proud to see it clear the last hurdle,” said Joint Budget Committee Chair, Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City). “This budget not only restores the cuts that we were forced to make last year, but it invests in Colorado’s future and helps facilitate an equitable economic recovery – making our state stronger and more resilient for years to come.”

“This budget is a moral document that seeks to rebuild community pillars and set the tone for reimagining an economic future that truly works for everyone,” said Joint Budget Committee Member, Senator Chris Hansen (D-Denver). “As budget writers, we have to balance adequately funding existing programs, while also making calculated investments that benefit as many Coloradans as possible. I’m proud of the final budget, and I’m grateful for the collaboration of both chambers and parties.”

Colorado’s $34.6 billion budget includes funding for day-to-day operations of state government, the majority of which is allocated to six departments, known as the ‘Big Six’ – the Dept. of Health Care Policy & Financing, the Dept. Education, the Dept. of Higher Education, the Dept. of Human Services, the Dept. of Corrections, and the Judicial Dept – which together receive approximately 80% of total state funding.

This year, Senate Democrats prioritized: 1) restoring funding to the cuts that the General Assembly was forced to make last year; 2) uplifting the most marginalized Coloradans to ensure an equitable economic recovery; and 3) investing in Colorado’s future to make our state more financially resourceful and resilient. In practice, this manifested in several ways. 

Restored funding included:

  • $480.3 million to reduce the budget stabilization factor – bolstering school funding levels for the next two years, the single biggest allocation in history. 

  • $473 million for state institutions of higher education. 

  • $380 million for future Public Employees’ Retirement Association Direct   

Investments made in the most vulnerable Coloradans included:

  • $707.5 million for medical and long-term services and supports provided through Medicaid. 

  • $87 million for county administration of SNAP benefits. 

  • $48.2 million for hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of low-income patients  

Investments made to enhance Colorado’s resiliency include:

  • $327.1 million for state infrastructure and information technology projects. 

  • $201 million to fund the State Emergency Reserve. 

  • $50 million to fund 2021 legislative proposals, including policies to combat climate change, spur job creation, and reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

  • $100 million to the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Fund.   

In addition to this baseline funding, several amendments made in both chambers were adopted in the final bill. Highlights include:

  • $10 million for special education programs benefiting children with disabilities

  • $2 million for disability benefits application assistance

  • $1.1 million for the implementation of Proposition 114, the reintroduction of gray wolves

  • $1 million for school bullying prevention and education

  • $250,000 for the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program, which supports prevention, intervention, and education programs for children, youth, and their families

Lastly, the final Long Bill maintains a set aside of $800 million for the legislative stimulus package, which includes appropriations to support agricultural communities, infrastructure, rural economic development, school investment, and job creation.