These are all of the Budget bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.
None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.
Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).
Click on the House bill title to jump to its section:
HB18-1035: Increase General Fund Reserve KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
HB18-1322-40: 2018-19 Long Appropriation Act and Associated Bills SIGNED
Click on the Senate bill title to jump to its section:
HB18-1035: Increase General Fund Reserve
KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
Currently the general fund is required to keep a 6.5% reserve each year (calculated by amount spent on other things in budget). Bill increases reserve to 7% for upcoming year, 7.5% for next year, then 8% for every year thereafter.
Because Colorado is a balanced budget state, the state has to maintain a reserve fund that can be tapped into in economic downturns, when revenue does not match needed expenses. We saw this just recently with the great recession. Colorado was recently rated by Moody’s as one of 15 states that would be in the most trouble in the event of a future recession and the reserve fund has been raided in each of the past two years (by not funding at the required 6.5%). The 7% also matches Governor Hickenlooper’s proposed budget for this upcoming year.
Colorado weathered the great recession, the most catastrophic downturn since the Great Depression and thus an event we are unlikely to see repeated anytime soon. The state can certainly temporarily boost its reserves as needed here and there, but we have too many other things which need to take advantage of the current good economic times, schools (owed over $800 million by the state), roads and transit (underfunded by over a $1 billion each year), and the state retirement plans (severely underfunded).
HB18-1098: Roll Over Year-End Balance Envtl Response Account
Currently the state’s oil and gas commission account that mitigates adverse impacts of oil and gas activities must return its balance into the commission’s larger fund. This bill rolls over the mitigation impact account year-to-year.
It makes sense to keep money in this account rather than sending it back only to send more in the next year. We have mitigation efforts required all of the time, that money is going to get used.
This breaks the annual budgeting concept by leaving residues from previous years in the account.
HB18-1322-40: 2018-19 Long Appropriation Act and Associated Bills
This is the actual budget bill (called the long bill) and a bunch of associated bills required to make the whole budget fit together. This year’s budget, thanks to somewhat unanticipated strong revenue, is a 7.5% jump from last year’s. Here are the key breakdowns (some amendments will change these figures slightly around the edges, but not in a significant way):
Education: Spending rises by nearly 6% per pupil and the negative factor (the amount the state owes the schools under the constitution) is reduced from $822 million to $672 million: the most it’s ever been reduced since it first appeared.
State Reserves: $766 million into the reserves, $41 million more than required by law. These are tapped into when we hit a recession to keep funding afloat (the state cannot deficit spend like the federal government)
Transportation: $495 million, tabbed for SB 1, the now compromise road funding measure that the House has yet to debate and still faces an uncertain future. If the bill fails, the House budget spends the money, thanks to a House amendment that probably will not survive in the Senate, at 35% for state highways, 25% for cities and counties, and 15% for multi-modal transportation. The Senate budget puts all the money into the state highway fund.
Pension System: $225 million set aside to pay down PERA’s $32 billion shortfall. How and when this gets spent is dependent on the PERA reform bill currently in the Senate.
Employees Pay: 3% across the board pay raise.
Higher Education: $82 million increase in spending.
Corrections: This was somewhat punted to other bills that address prison bed shortages, but $11 million was set aside (significantly less than the department requested).
As is usually the case when you have lots of unexpected money, there’s something here for everyone. We make a big dent in paying down education negative factor, set aside a serious chunk of money for a rainy day, address transportation in a stop-gap manner while larger revenue sources are debated, give state employees a raise, boost higher education, and set aside some funds to address PERA.
We’re never going to get rid of the negative factor at this rate. We should have used that money diverted to a one-time transportation solution that does nothing to address the long-term funding issue and piled it directly in the negative factor. We could have had it down to $177 million and actually potentially paid off next year entirely.
FROM ANOTHER SIDE
This is a pitiful band-aid on our state-wide transportation woes. Instead of stepping up and permanently setting aside funds, this budget punts and clearly hopes for a sales tax increase instead. We know how to do this, we’ve done it in the past. Bonding projects to get the large amount of up-front money required that is paid off over time.
FROM YET ANOTHER SIDE
This budget puts too much faith in the PERA bill currently circulating. The $225 million set aside is laughable in the face of a $32 BILLION shortfall. As usual, our politicians are ignoring the ticking time bomb in favor of lavishing money on other, more popular, things in the short-term. We should have easily been able to set aside $1 BILLION towards PERA funding by taking some away from every other category.
HB18-1430: State Agency Long-Range Financial Plan
Requires each state agency to prepare and update annually a long range plan that includes: agency’s mission, functions and goals; anticipated trends, conditions or events; best and worst performing programs; forecast of budget requests for the next five years; description of any programs that use federal funds or gifts the agency anticipates may decrease in future and will require state money. All to be submitted to joint budget committee.
Boom times don’t last forever and we need to be prepared for the next economic downturn. Looking ahead will help agencies and the budgeters in state government do a better job of anticipating problems before they occur.
These five year plans may be held against an agency if circumstances change and their budget requests change as a result. As people we are also pretty bad in general at forecasting that far ahead. This may cause more harm than good.