Joint Budget Committee actions and our policy priorities
Colorado’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC) has been making budget cuts since they reconvened on May 4, trying to make up for the $3.3 billion General Fund shortfall due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The budget cuts are unprecedented and have impacted every department of state government. The Colorado Children’s Campaign released a statement last week, urging legislators to prioritize the following critical areas to ensure Colorado children and families are as supported and stable as possible, balance any cuts with new revenue, and design equitable solutions when reopening and rebuilding our economy.
We are closely following the JBC meetings and budget cut decisions, advocating for children and families at every step of the process. The Committee is working today to finalize the state budget, also known as the Long Bill. The following list is a current summary of JBC actions in our key priority areas.
Family Economic Security
- Protect our state’s innovative child support pass-through policy to allow the full amount of child support payments to go directly to children and families who receive TANF basic cash assistance.
- The JBC approved a reduction of $321K for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. This allows the program to remain solvent but saves money in the state General Fund.
- The JBC delayed action on cutting funding for the 2019-2020 fiscal year on May 9.
- Protect funding for Family Resource Centers as families struggle to make ends meet and provide for the needs of their children.
- The JBC reduced funding for Family Resource Centers by $528K.
- Protect funding for infants and toddlers in the Early Intervention program to ensure that children with developmental delays are not denied services.
- The JBC cut the Early Intervention program by $1.7M General Fund for the 2020-21 fiscal year, eliminating funding for projected caseload growth for next year. There is a supplemental process the department is able to complete to ask for additional funding if caseload growth does happen.
- The committee did not cut the FY19-20 supplemental funding for increased caseload.
- Protect the Children’s Basic Health Plan (CHP+).
- The JBC unanimously protected funding for the Children’s Basic Health Plan (CHP+).
- Protect dental services for pregnant people in Medicaid.
- The JBC has voted to reduce the Medicaid adult dental benefit (including the benefit for pregnant women) from its current cap of $1,500 per year to $1,000 per year once it is able to make that change when the disaster declaration is lifted and the current maintenance of effort requirements expire.
- Protect funding for the family planning program.
- The JBC approved a 15% cut, rather than the staff-recommended 20% reduction.
- Adjust school finance formula factors as a targeted solution instead of resorting to across the board cuts through the budget stabilization factor. In doing so, legislators should protect targeted investments in our students and communities experiencing the most barriers to opportunity and support communities that perpetually struggle to find adequate funding to meet student needs because of low property wealth and/or inability to raise local funds through mill levy overrides or local public school foundations.
- The JBC approved a reduction of $448M for public schools. While the JBC discussed adjusting the school finance formula factors, they did not take any direct action in that regard. That task is now left to the authors of the annual School Finance Act.
- This week, the Colorado Children’s Campaign joined partners sending a letter to the General Assembly asking for these adjustments. For more information about the letter and discussion, you can read Leslie Cowell’s article in this week’s KidsFlash or these updates from Chalkbeat and Colorado Public Radio.
- Continue the state’s investment in preschool and full-day kindergarten, rather than passing the costs on to parents who are dealing with financial insecurity, so that parents can get back to work and ensure children do not suffer additional learning loss.
- The committee discussed but did not take action on possible cuts to the Colorado Preschool Program or the state’s full-day kindergarten program. Similar to the formula factors, those decisions are now left to the authors of the School Finance Act.
- Preserve Smart Start (Breakfast after the Bell) and recent expansions of the Child Nutrition Lunch Protection Act to prevent additional food insecurity for children and families.
The JBC did not approve any cuts to these programs.