Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday submitted his administration’s supplemental adjustments to the proposed state budget, following his reelection in November and a mid-December economic forecast that gave a clearer picture of the state’s financial status.
The adjustments build on what Polis, a Democrat, submitted last November in his budget request for the 2023-24 fiscal year. That budget includes a 15% budget reserve in the face of economic uncertainty.
“It’s an opportunity to highlight our values, the mandate I have from the people of Colorado and our plans for a second term,” Polis told reporters Tuesday.
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The amended proposal includes additional spending in key areas like property tax relief, affordable housing investments, clean energy tax credits and workforce expansion strategies.
Polis’s budget now proposes to put aside $200 million from the general fund to provide immediate property tax relief over the next two years as residential assessed values soar across the state. This would be in concert with work during the upcoming legislative session to pass a long-term tax relief package to reduce commercial property taxes and establish a mechanism to protect homeowners in the current climate.
Last year, Polis signed a $700 million property tax relief bill.
The amended budget proposal also includes up to $120 million in clean energy tax credits to help the state move toward its total renewable energy goals. That would include expanded rebates for items like electric vehicles, e-bikes, electric lawn mowers and electric leaf blowers, as well as incentives for larger projects related to geothermal energy, green hydrogen power and modernization of industrial facilities.
Polis is also recommending $70 million to help close the so-called skill gap, which is contributing to a workforce environment that has many jobs but not enough skilled workers. The money would reduce costs — or make it free in some cases — to get certified or trained in education, law enforcement, fire and forestry, construction trades, advanced manufacturing and nursing.
“A more limited version of this is already in effect and it’s working. We made it free to become a certified nurse assistant, phlebotomist, EMT and a number of health care related fields. No surprise that demand went up and more people enrolled. These are other fields that we need people in,” he said.
Other requests in the new adjustments include $25 million for after-school STEM programs, $3 million for math curriculum purchasing, $10 million to reduce health insurance premiums, $10.5 million for employer-based child care, $5 million to leverage funding under the bipartisan CHIPS Act for microchip manufacturing, and $4.5 million on transportation connected to Senate Bill 21-260, which includes transportation improvements.
The amended budget request heads to the Joint Budget Committee, which is in charge of crafting the state budget for the next fiscal year.