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Gov. Polis announces $40B budget request

Gov. Jared Polis released details of his $40 billion budget request for fiscal year 2022-2023 during a press conference on Monday.

The governor described it as a “fiscally prudent and balanced budget” that makes several one-time investments in environmental programs, public safety, and small businesses.

The state’s budget for the current fiscal year is over $34 billion, up from $30 billion the prior fiscal year.

“We’ve seen the challenges that the pandemic has exposed in our workforce, health care, and child care systems, as well as in our small business sector, all of which have added additional pressures to Coloradans facing rising costs of living,” Polis said in a statement. “My proposed balanced budget aims to build on the foundation that has been laid to help Colorado recover faster and stronger, and ensure that every Coloradan has the opportunity to get ahead, while living in a safe and thriving community.”

Among the investments Polis outlined are $381.2 million to increase wages for teachers and per-pupil funding in public schools. This includes $30 million that is set aside to renovate some higher education campuses to add child care centers and $21 million to help match educators with good-paying jobs.

The budget also proposes to prepay more than $300 million for future educational needs.

The governor also announced a $600 million investment in Colorado’s small businesses by prepaying the state’s pandemic-related Unemployment Insurance fund.

Entrepreneurs would get a boost via fee requirement waivers included in the budget as well. For example, a licensed nurse would no longer need to pay the state-mandated $88 application fee, $200 exam fee, and $43 endorsement fee to get licensed.

Polis also said he is partnering with Secretary of State Jena Griswold to waive business filing fees across the board. This initiative could save $17 million total in fees for businesses in the state and reduce most filings to $1.

Griswold said in a press release that her office will retain the $1 fee to “reduce fraud within [Colorado’s] business registry.”

“Supporting Colorado’s small businesses is essential to our communities and economy,” Griswold said. “That’s why we’re working to cut fees for the state’s business owners.”

Polis also committed to making “historic” investments to reduce crime, homelessness, and setting the state up for future economic success.

The budget will include at least $113 million to increase public safety and $200 million for coordinated statewide programs that reduce homelessness, the governor said.

Polis also asked lawmakers to tuck away $1.8 billion in reserves to prepay for future state programs as part of a stride to increase Colorado’s total reserves to 15% of the overall budget. Colorado’s reserve rate was 13.4% last year.

This article was originally posted on Gov. Polis announces $40B budget request

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