Romer: Colorado’s plan for federal stimulus dollars
Last week, the governor, legislative leadership and Joint Budget Committee members announced a plan to spend the $3.8 billion Colorado allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act. Colorado expects to spend $2 billion of the state’s total $3.8 billion in federal funds during the remaining days of this legislative session.
An estimated $1.8 billion in federal funds will remain for spending next legislative session (beginning January 2022) following an interim stakeholder process designed to study changing economic needs over the coming months. There are no plans for a special session at this time.
Highlights of the state’s spending plan (and corresponding bills) include:
- $1 billion for shoring up the state budget and maintaining fiscal integrity
- $300 million for the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Between $400-$550 million for affordable housing and home ownership efforts
- Between $400-$550 million for mental and behavioral health programs
- Approximately $200 million for workforce development and education
- Approximately $817 million for economic recovery and relief
- $404-$414 million for transportation and infrastructure, and parks and agriculture
With the $3.8 billion of state aid provided by the American Rescue Plan Act, the governor and Colorado Legislature are rolling out the road map of investments designed to power the Colorado Comeback.
A top priority for the state aid provided by the American Rescue Plan Act will be to shore up the state budget for the near term through a series of budget integrity measures, so as the Coloradans are recovering from this global pandemic, the state can avoid cuts to critical state services such as funding for K-12 schools, higher education, existing mental, behavioral and physical health programs, and the ongoing public health response to COVID-19. That’s why a full third, or $1.3 billion, of the federal relief funds will be invested in ensuring budget integrity for the next several years.
These federal funds will further strengthen Colorado’s work to make the state’s economy even stronger post pandemic. Through the Colorado Recovery Plan unveiled in March, the state has already invested roughly $800 million of state funds to help Coloradans recover faster. State stimulus funds are already focused on strengthening small businesses, revitalizing Colorado’s infrastructure, supporting families, investing in rural communities and developing the state’s workforce.
Numerous bills have been introduced to execute on this plan, including funding for transportation, small business relief and outdoor programs and infrastructure. Last week, both the Senate and the House published memos indicating they may be entering the last three days of the legislative session. The drop dead, constitutional adjournment date for this session is Saturday, June 12 – but the schedules in both chambers point toward an acceleration in this timeline.
Things will move fast and furious — with bills introduced and through nearly all actions in a chamber within a day. At the Vail Valley Partnership, we understand the importance of engagement at the state and federal level to ensure our business community has a voice and can grow.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at www.vailvalleypartnership.com.