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Balanced Budget Proposal Includes  Record Reserves and Prudent Investments

Today, as required by statute, Governor Jared Polis released his balanced budget proposal for FY 2023-24, concurrently submitting his budget proposal to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) of the General Assembly.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis enters the House of Representatives chamber to make his first State of the State address to a joint session of the Colorado Legislature Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Governor’s budget proposal is focused on addressing the issues Coloradans face today while saving families money and investing in our future, making neighborhoods safer and more affordable, protecting our land, air, and water, and balancing the budget with record reserves, while continuing to save Coloradans money and reduce costs.

“The hard work of the last four years has led to a strong economic recovery, with tens of thousands of new jobs created in the last year alone and an unemployment rate below the national average,” said Polis. “But we must continue pushing forward and address the challenges facing Coloradans. I am proud that this balanced budget proposal focuses on securing today and investing in tomorrow. This budget doubles down on the work to make our state more affordable, safer, cleaner, and better prepared for a natural disaster or financial rainy day.”

The Governor said the budget proposal continues the state’s commitment to good government and fiscal responsibility. It includes a historic 15 percent reserve protection for a future rainy day, restraining operating growth to 7 percent (below the 8.3 percent rate of inflation, and saves more than half of the prepays that were set aside this past year.

Among the top priorities since day one is education, and the Governor’s budget proposal does appear to focus on high-quality education, continuing his record:

  • In 2019, the Polis administration instituted free full-day kindergarten statewide for the first time in Colorado history.
  • In 2020, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved universal preschool for all Colorado kids, and this year Polis signed into law HB22-1295 to create the Department of Early Childhood and the Colorado Universal Preschool Program. This budget includes $325 million to implement free universal preschool for the first time in Colorado, saving families thousands of dollars and providing high-quality early childhood education.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed HB 19-1262 into law on Tuesday, while to his left, District 60 Representative Jim Wilson waves in triumph. Wilson sponsored the bill in the Colorado House.

Beyond universal preschool, the Governor’s budget proposal builds on previous historic investments in Colorado schools. It increases per-pupil funding by $861 or nearly $19,000 for a classroom of 22, on top of last year’s record increase of $545 per pupil or $12,000 per classroom, and reducing the Budget Stabilization Factor to a fourteen-year low of three percent of the total program.

This is more money for classrooms and educators to ensure the best education our children deserve. This budget will also keep college tuition increases at half the rate of inflation.

100 Ways to Save Coloradans Money

The budget lists more than 100 ways the Polis administration is saving Coloradans money with additional fee relief, lower-cost housing, and healthcare savings.

It continues the effective fee relief enacted through HB22-1001 to make it nearly free to start a business, saving Colorado business owners over $8 million and encouraging economic growth and expansion.

It includes new fee reductions for individuals seeking to become licensed childcare providers making it more affordable to start or expand a childcare business. Building on earlier successes it waives license fees for nurses, nurse aides, and psychiatric technicians, bolstering Colorado’s critical healthcare workforce.

Continuing to save Coloradans money on health care, the Reinsurance Program is saving Coloradans $2,800 to $7,500 on health insurance premiums this year, and the Division of Insurance projects that by the end of 2023, it will have reduced premiums by nearly $1.2 billion dollars since it was established in 2020.

To ensure every Coloradan can thrive in safe and healthy communities, the Polis administration is investing in public safety –with the goal of making Colorado one of the ten safest states in the nation over the next five years. Last year, that included a comprehensive public safety plan of action including significant investments in community policing models, enhanced investigative capacity, and investing in the law enforcement workforce. The budget proposal appears to build on this work and provides evidence-based solutions to keep communities and schools safe with robust support for local law enforcement, community organizations, and school safety initiatives.

The governor’s 2023 budget proposal includes new, ongoing resources for climate action and preparedness, including wildfire mitigation, water quality, defending Colorado’s water rights, continuing to fight for clean air, and reducing the State’s energy footprint.

It expands wildfire response capacity and proven prevention measures. Key investments in wildfire prevention include aerial resources to fight large wildfires from above, increased support and training for Colorado’s brave and hardworking firefighters, expanded fire mitigation efforts, and the establishment of a statewide fire data governance system.

Water is the lifeblood of our state and Housing is a Continuing Challenge

The Governor’s proposed budget includes new investments in technical capacity and policy expertise to ensure that the State can meet its interstate obligations while protecting the Colorado River entitlements that are paramount to Colorado’s economy, livelihoods, and quality of life.

Over the last two years, Colorado has made unprecedented investments in housing, and this proposed budget builds upon this work with bold support for statewide innovative, affordable housing projects through the state’s Public-Private Partnership (P3) office. The hope is that these strong public-private partnerships, which are planned to include local governments, will allow the state to be part of the housing solution.

Per Colorado statute, the governor must submit a budget by the statutory deadline of November 1. Statutes also allow the governor to submit a supplemental budget amendment package on January 2, as his administration always has.

Polis’s staff has noted that should Colorado voters choose to give him a second term, he will submit an amendment package in January based on upcoming forecasts that include additional priorities; as he did in January 2019 after his election as Governor in 2018.

This is the full budget document.