Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
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(DENVER) - A sustainable revenue stream to make health care more accessible and affordable for Colorado families, expand cancer screening and treatment and target youth smoking is contained in legislation Gov. Bill Owens signed into law this morning.
The Governor signed House Bill 1262, which allocates approximately $140 million per year in new tobacco tax funds approved by voters in a 2004 referendum.
"Our task this year was to ensure that these new dollars are invested wisely, responsibly and effectively," the Governor said. "I made it plain at the outset of the legislative session that we could work together and craft a plan that would help vulnerable Coloradans and would protect taxpayer dollars. That is exactly what we have achieved. "
The Governor signed the bill at a ceremony at Children's Hospital in Denver.
"We all share responsibility for the health of Colorado's children," said Dori Biester, Ph.D., RN, Children's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased that this new funding mechanism will provide health care coverage to many Colorado children who previously have not had health insurance."
The Governor highlighted key aspects of the bill, which also were contained in a set of goals he outlined in January for how the funds could be utilized most effectively:
Owens also said the bill will allow these and other expanded investments to be sustained over time even as the tobacco tax revenue experiences an expected drop. The bill, in its first year, reserves a minimum of one year of the funds earmarked for health care expansion - approximately $80 million. And that reserve fund cannot fall below half of the fund invested each year to expand health care access.
"We cannot spend every dollar that comes in as fast as it comes in," the Governor said. "We need to ensure that these new programs can be sustained by tobacco taxes, and not put pressure on an already burdened state General Fund budget. This reserve will be a solid savings account to protect the programs - and protect Colorado taxpayers."
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