These are all of the Budget bills proposed in the 2019 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.
Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in . They are color-coded by party.
Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.
Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.
HB19-1061 Zero-based Budgeting Review Principal Departments [Bockenfield]
KILLED IN HOUSE COMMITTEE
Require the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee to annually review two of the state’s principal departments using a zero-based budgeting method. The departments will rotate so that each one is reviewed once every 10 years.
Long Description: n/a
Our current budgeting procedure involves departments making requests for funding, the governor submitting a budget proposal based on those requests, and then the Joint Budget Committee going through and creating their own budget, which the legislature then considers, based on these starting points. This allows the departments far too much leeway in examining their own roles and functions and over time can create waste as well as a “use or lose it” mentality whereby departments actually search for ways they can spend the money they were allocated so they can ask for at least the same amount next year. By forcing each department to examine and justify all of its expenses every ten years, we can ensure that we are really spending money the way we want to without overburdening departments with more frequent x-rays, which is the mistake that other states have made in trying to implement this process. Departments are going to find things they cannot justify and therefore won’t ask for funding for. We may find programs that aren’t really working and cannot be justified. We may find duplicative overlap between programs. In short, we may spend our tax dollars more efficiently and be able to better tackle our chronic education and transportation funding issues.
Our current budgeting system has stood the state well for several reasons. One is that we leave the decisions about how best to run the departments to the actual departments and the experts involved there, not to the general assembly. What this reasonable sounding bill may actually do is create massive amounts of work for these departments and then drop the decision making on justification into the laps of legislators who cannot possibly understand the nuts and bolts of how departments work but will presumably turn the process into a partisan food fight over programs the legislators (from both sides of the political aisle) do not like. It is also extremely difficult to justify long-term positive effects and to untangle federal and state statutory requirements. This process proved to be so unworkable when instituted by President Jimmy Carter that President Ronald Reagan abandoned it almost immediately. Florida tried this exact periodic review process and abandoned it after three years. Oklahoma ditched it after one. No state has ever created this process and stuck with it.
SB19-207 FY 2019-20 Long Bill (Moreno) [Esgar]
SIGNED INTO LAW
Goal: To implement the state’s 2019-20 budget.
The $30.5 billion state budget breaks down as follows:
- K-12 Education: $6.1 billion, a 3.3% increase over last year with
$185$175 million toward full-day kindergarten and $77 million to decrease the “negative factor” (money owed to our schools). Includes $619 million in federal funds. $4.2 billion is general fund money.
- Health: $10.7 billion, a 2.85 increase over last year. Includes $15.4 million to cover state’s cost for court-ordered reduction in wait times for mental health evaluations and $5.4 million to add more capacity to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. Includes $6 billion in federal funds. $3.1 billion is general fund money.
- Higher Education: $4.9 billion, a 6.2% increase over last year, including $25.9 million in federal funds and $2.8 billion in cash funds (tuition payments). Only Metro State is expected to have to raise tuition prices next year. $1.1 billion is general fund money.
- Human Services: $2.3 billion, a 6% increase over last year, including $636 million in federal funds. $1 billion is general fund money.
- Transportation: $2.1 billion, a 17% increase over last year, including $621 million in federal funds. $30 $136 $70 million is general fund money.
- Corrections: $993 million, a 7% increase over last year, including $3.6 million in federal funds. $890 million is general fund money.
- Raises for state employees: 3% increase to address cost of living. Higher increases for prison guards, public defenders, and attorney general’s office. State contractors get 1% increase, with higher increases in areas like behavioral health.
- State reserves stayed at same 7.25%, or about $843 million total.
- The state is spending general fund money toward implementation of the state water plan, which had been funded by severance tax funds until last year, $10 million spent here of general funds.
- $256 million in capital construction projects including $31.3 million for construction of the Center of Personalized Medicine and Behavioral Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora and $22.5 million for CSU’s campus in Fort Collins.
This budget is a balanced approach to our problems and needs while recognizing that the boom is ending. The latest revenue forecast in March took hundreds of millions of dollars out of this budget, so we cannot throw all the money we need at our problems in education, higher education, and transportation. Finally achieving the promise of full-day kindergarten is included in the budget, as is additional money for transportation (it is critical to remember that transportation has historically not been funded by state general funds) and enough money in higher education to keep most tuition constant. We are paying down our negative factor and continuing to store money away for the next recession in our reserve fund.
Full-day Kindergarten is a luxury we obviously cannot afford right now. What are we going to do when revenue drops in a recession and we have this extra nearly $200 million required spending in our schools? And what about the billions of dollars in transportation funding backlogs? While it is true that transportation historically has not been funded through the general fund the reality is that the old ways don’t work anymore. The gas tax and other smaller methods are just not enough in 2019. We need to reprioritize toward facing our current commitments before adding others.
We need to be saving more money for that next recession, particularly if it is coming later this year or next year. Most independent analysts agree we do not have enough money in our reserves to weather a significant economic downturn. We need to be wise and recognize that boom times are the times to store money away so we can weather the inevitable downturns.