COLORADO LEGISLATIVE SERVICES, LLC
Last week, Republican and Democrat leaders came to an agreement to spent $300 million more next year on transportation. The question for this and a number of other bills is: how is it going to get funded?
This compromise struck Thursday afternoon is $36 million less than the amount agreed to in the Senate last week. The House got approval from their counterparts before announcing this compromise, which directs the six members of the Joint Budget Committee to find $70 million for the Department of Transportation in the $30.5 billion state budget.
Republicans, since the beginning of the election, have been pushing for more money to go into transportation and Democrats have been expressing concern over where to find it. The retort of the conservatives is to take the money from newly-created programs, of which this year there is no short supply.
Between the Family and Medical Leave Act (FAMLI), the local minimum wage bill, a number of bills that intend to lower the cost of healthcare through programs like reinsurance and transparency, bills to increase Medicaid provider rates, bills that re-regulate the oil and gas industry and a bill that allows local governments to implement rent control measures, hundreds of millions of new money will be spent on new programs and it seems as if the state is expecting business to foot the bill. Finally though, the business voice is finally starting to gain some traction to slow bills down.
After it was delayed a week, the FAMLI program bill is expected to have some major changes. It is uncertain how potential future changes will impact the solvency of the proposed program, which earlier was projected to generate about $1 billion annually for a fund that workers could then draw at $1,000 a week to take leave for an illness, pregnancy, domestic violence or to take care of another individual.
Delays on other bills have been more definite. On Tuesday, Senate Democrats laid over the bill to ban the death penalty, not forcing a vote on the measure. This move has highlighted some disruption in the Senate Democratic caucus and is part of what is helping to slow down impactful legislation that has been moving quickly through. The brakes are not completely "on" however.
In the coming weeks, we still expect a state-run retirement study bill, the school finance act, and more movement on the bills that "debruce” (make TABOR-exempt) the state budget for transportation, higher education and K-12 education.
More to come later this week!