Colorado governor’s new budget plan includes $1.3 billion stimulus to kick-start state economy |

Colorado governor’s new budget plan includes $1.3 billion stimulus to kick-start state economy

Gov. Jared Polis spent big in the new spending proposal even as he acknowledged the “historic uncertainty” surrounding the state’s fiscal outlook

John Frank / Colorado Sun
Gov. Jared Polis speaks to reporters at a news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020
Jesse Paul / The Colorado Sun

Gov. Jared Polis is proposing a $1.3 billion stimulus package that he says will jump-start the Colorado economy — but it’s not clear the money exists to cover the cost.

The stimulus package is a key part of the $31 billion budget proposal the Democrat issued Monday and it includes the previously announced $375 checks to unemployed workers, as well as a temporary state sales tax break for small businesses pinched by COVID-19 public health orders and $220 million in spending on shovel-ready infrastructure projects.

The budget plan — for the fiscal year starting July 1 — includes $2 billion more in discretionary spending than the current year, a 20% increase.

“This budget isn’t about just getting back to where we used to be — that wasn’t good enough,” Polis said in a budget presentation. “It’s about taking this challenging time, this difficult time, to utilize lessons learned and boldly forge a path that positions our state for the future in a more equitable way by making key strategic investments.”

The governor’s budget proposal is the first step in a six-month process that Colorado lawmakers undertake to write the annual spending plan. But Polis is pressing the Democratic-led state legislature to act quickly and approve major spending when it returns in January.

“If they can get an increase in funds for this fiscal year, those can create jobs and dollars in the economy right away,” said Lauren Larson, the governor’s budget director.

So far lawmakers are expressing caution amid significant questions surrounding the state’s fiscal outlook. The Polis administration built its 2021-22 fiscal year spending plan on rosy economic predictions that anticipate $1 billion more in state revenue than legislative economists are forecasting.

In addition, four measures on the 2020 ballot will impact the state’s revenue picture and complicate the budget plan.

To read the rest of the Colorado Sun article, click here.

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