Fountain Valley News - Your Hometown Community Newspaper

Budget Meeting with the Governor

 

January 23, 2019

During a media interview Governor Polis stated "Basically a budget is a statement of your values". The household version of that is you spend money on what is important to you.

The Governor courteously met with the Joint Budget Committee a couple of days before his budget was formally presented. I appreciated the opportunity for an open and candid conversation, good questions and good answers even if the values were not completely in alignment.

For the most part he left Governor Hickenlooper's budget alone and used the new money in the latest forecast to fund his values. To his credit, none of which were new if you had been paying attention during the campaign.

Full day kindergarten was the big-ticket item along with funding reserves to bring those up to 8%. Several other items, much smaller by comparison but still significant, Teacher Debt Forgiveness for teaching in rural districts, Freshman Succeeds Fund as well as Concurrent Enrollment. That last one allowing students to obtain college credits while still in high school were all part of the education piece.

On the health care side, we saw the Office of Saving People Money on Healthcare, prescription drug relief, paid parental leave for state employees, a reinsurance program and a state-wide health care study.

What was missing that would benefit all school districts was any additional funding to buy down the negative factor. This is the amount owed schools under Amendment 23, now called the Budget Stabilization Factor. That IOU is now sitting at $700 million. Additional funds in that line item would have given relief to every school district in the state.

But the real gaping hole in the proposal was the lack of any mention of additional funding for transportation. With a projected $1.2 billion dollar increase from last years revenue it seems that we could earmark several hundred million dollars for transportation. Maybe even the $336 million the Minority Leader called for in his opening day speech. Back to the values statement, if transportation is the last thing we look at I can promise there will never be any additional General Fund money for roads.

 

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