5 new insights into Gov. Jared Polis’ coronavirus response and how COVID-19 is affecting Colorado
The Polis administration was called before state lawmakers on Tuesday to talk about its spending and policy decisions around the pandemic
Jared Polis’ top deputies appeared before a panel of leading state lawmakers on Tuesday to talk about the governor’s response to the coronavirus crisis.
Specifically, Polis’ surrogates outlined how Colorado has spent billions in federal aid and the ways in which the governor has used his executive authority to prevent COVID-19 from spreading out of control.
The day-long hearing was a result of a bill passed by state lawmakers in recent months in an effort to provide them with more oversight over and insight into how the governor has handled the pandemic.
Here are five big takeaways from the hearing:
$19 billion in federal aid, but more is needed
Colorado has received more than $19 billion in federal coronavirus aid since the pandemic began, the largest portion — $10 billion — of which came in the form of Paycheck Protection Program loans to small and medium-sized businesses.
(The Colorado Sun was a recipient of one such loan)
Another $4.4 billion flowed to the state in the form of direct stimulus checks to Coloradans, while $1 billion went toward increasing unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs.
State government received about $3 billion, the bulk of which Polis directed to schools. He also distributed the money to local governments and the state legislature, which in turn used the money to help people facing housing insecurity and to give grants to small businesses.
Lauren Larson, Polis’ director of state planning and budgeting, said Colorado needs more money to weather the economic effects of the crisis.
“It’s not enough to offset the loss of economic activity, certainly,” Larson said. “I don’t think it’s close to filling the hole.”
The state’s disaster emergency fund is running low and the unemployment trust fund is about to run out of money and start operating with a loan from the federal government.
“It’s hard to underestimate the importance of getting additional federal support,” Larson said. “I hope we all can be encouraging our federal delegation to help with this. We’re really in a very tight situation for the next budget year and for our emergency expenses.”
To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.
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