Capitol Update: Here is what happened to during the second week of the Long Bill
The state budget is almost finalized! Members of the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee (JBC) have been hard at work for months reviewing and setting next fiscal year’s budget, which begins July 1. Things are looking a lot better than they did a year ago. When the pandemic and economic downturn hit last March, our state’s budget writers were faced with some very difficult decisions. Ultimately, they had to cut more than $3 billion from state budget, including reductions in public school funding, family planning services, and numerous behavioral health programs. Throughout the summer and fall, there was a big question mark around how this year’s budget would look. Will the economy recover quickly? Will funding be restored? Or will even more funding need to be cut?
Thankfully, this session’s budget outlook has been much more positive than 2020. Our annual state budget legislation, or the “Long Bill,” was introduced last week, and it is looking pretty good for the programs and priorities that matter to kids and families. Our economy has started to bounce back. More and more federal stimulus dollars are coming to Colorado— and that means our state’s revenue picture is much rosier. Budget writers were able to restore a lot of the funding that was cut last year. They were able to put $480 million back into K-12 education. They were able restore funding to several health programs like family planning. They were even able to begin investing more in the future, with $800 million set aside for our state’s own stimulus package. Of course, there is still a long road ahead, and the economy recovery certainly hasn’t been felt equitably across the state. For now, though, there certainly is a quiet optimism at the State Capitol.
You can read all the bills we are tracking here
Here are this week’s Capitol Highlights:
Health Care Billing Requirements for Indigent Patients Summary (Jodeh/Buckner & Kolker)
This bill would require hospital providers to screen uninsured patients for health coverage options for which they may be eligible. It is scheduled to be heard in the House Health & Insurance Committee on Wed. April 21 at 1:30 p.m. You can listen online here. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Increase Capacity Early Childhood Care & Education (Story & Sonnenberg/Tipper & Van Beber)
The bill would advance five strategies to support the capacity of the early care and education system in Colorado. It would make technical amendments to the Child Care Sustainability and Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant Programs created by HB 20B-1006 during the Special Session, and institute four grant program strategies designed to support employer-offered child care. This would help support the early care and education workforce, as well as innovation in the early care and education sector. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.
Maternal Health Providers (Buckner/Herod)
This bill would update several provisions pertaining to maternal health in Colorado. One element of the bill would require the state to take up a federal Medicaid option which would extend postpartum coverage through Medicaid for one year postpartum. The Colorado Children’s Campaign supports this bill. We know that in Colorado, the highest number of maternal mortalities occur after 6 weeks postpartum and before 12 months postpartum and that people who use Medicaid for their health insurance are twice as likely to die as people who do not use Medicaid. To learn more about this bill and its journey through the legislature, click here.