Governor Polis, Legislative Leadership Take Action to Stimulate Economy & Extend Support to Hardest Hit Coloradans

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

DENVER - Governor Polis and Legislative leadership took action today to stimulate the state’s economy and extend support to those Coloradans hit hardest by the current recession. While Washington D.C continues to negotiate a new relief package, many Coloradans continue to struggle without the needed help. Since the pandemic struck in March, hundreds of thousands of Coloradans have filed for and received unemployment insurance benefits to help pay for groceries, rent, and utilities, and the hardest working Coloradans are still struggling because of the economic recession caused by COVID-19. 

“Washington D.C has failed to act to provide additional direct cash support for hardworking Coloradans and to further stimulate the economy, so today Colorado is boldy doing our part to help our own. I am taking swift action in close consultation with legislative leadership and members of the JBC to direct immediate payments to people whose lives and jobs have been hurt due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Polis. “Colorado can and should act now to help the hardworking people who will help lead us out of this challenging time and that’s what we’re doing today.”

Enhanced federal benefits for those receiving unemployment have dried up since September 5th, and so the State will help fill this gap left by federal inaction by sending one-time direct payments of $375 to approximately 435,000 individuals in early December. Governor Polis today signed an Executive Order directing the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) to make one-time direct stimulus payments to qualifying individuals experiencing economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Together, Colorado can bounce back stronger than before, but in order to do that, we must take charge of our own fate. We can’t afford to wait around for Congress to step up while countless hardworking people are struggling to make ends meet. That’s why we have decided to forge our own way and get people the help they need now, regardless of Federal inaction,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia.  

“Colorado is stepping up where Congress has failed,” said Speaker Becker, D-Boulder. “We know a stimulus like this will provide direct assistance to Coloradans who are struggling to get back on their feet and help rebuild our economy. The governor’s executive order will boost the incomes of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans to help those in need make ends meet as COVID cases rise and we head into the winter.”

“These direct payments will help Coloradans who have been hit hardest by this crisis get through the pandemic, pay their rent or mortgage, and cover their essential needs,” said Majority Leader Alec Garnett. “If we don’t act now, Coloradans across our state will face an even larger mountain to climb to recover. This is the Colorado way - working together to govern responsibly and put our economy on the path to recovery.” 

“These payments will help bridge the gap for many Coloradans, but it’s not enough. We must continue working to find solutions that support our communities during this pandemic. Too many Americans are underwater – abandoned by the federal government in their time of need. But states all across the country are stepping up for their residents, and I am proud that Colorado is among them,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg.

Colorado’s unemployment rate remains high but not as high compared to other states. Low and middle-income earners have been hit the hardest by job loss. Colorado has been recognized as a leader in managing economic fallout, especially when paying out unemployment claims quickly and efficiently.

Targeting these workers will help fill the gap left by the ending of the Lost Wages Assistance Program, and help Coloradans as the state enters the difficult winter months ahead.

“Coloradans have made a lot of sacrifices during this pandemic, and I’m proud that we can deliver some relief to folks in Southern Colorado and across the state. We are doing everything we can to support Coloradans and stimulate our economy. This boost is one of the ways we’re prioritizing helping people get through the pandemic and recover from the hardships it’s caused” said JBC Chair Daneya Esgar. 

“These funds will provide some much-needed relief for our fellow Coloradans whose livelihoods have been devastated by COVID-19,” said JBC Vice Chair Dominick Moreno. “As we continue to wait for the federal government to step up, we will take care of those in our backyard.” 

“Our mountain communities bore the initial economic and public health blow from this pandemic, and families are in serious need of relief. It’s not their fault Congress couldn’t reach a deal while they continue to struggle, so I am thrilled we can offer much-needed assistance to those who need it most,” said JBC member Julie McCluskie. 

“The burdens of 2020 have fallen upon so many of our neighbors, friends, and valued business owners. It’s time to do what’s right. We must take action to prevent hardworking people from falling through the cracks in our economy,”said JBC Member Rachel Zenzinger. 

CDLE expects the population of qualifying Coloradoans to include approximately 435,000 workers making less than $52,0000 per year. CDLE anticipates these much needed direct payments to reach 65% of all unemployment claimants since March 15th, with a distribution across all 64 Colorado counties.

“We can’t leave hardworking Coloradans behind. This funding will inject money into our economy in a targeted way, helping middle and lower-income families make ends meet. This support will help those who have been hit hardest by this global pandemic and who need it most,” said Rep. Shannon Bird. 

“As we rebuild our economy, it’s critical that we make sure no one is forgotten or left behind,” said Senator Jeff Bridges. “After being out of work for months and with no consistent federal support to rely on, people are hurting in Colorado. But we have the power to change things for the better. This support will help those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and give families some much-needed breathing room.”

“These funds will provide a level of much-needed certainty for our fellow Coloradans whose livelihoods have been impacted by COVID-19 to help them put food on the table and make ends meet. As we continue to wait for the federal government to step up, we are taking action to care for Coloradans in need,” said Rep. Kyle Mullica.

“Mountain towns and rural Coloradans got hit hard by the pandemic and continue to face day-to-day challenges making ends meet,”  said Senator Kerry Donovan. “This direct payment may help a family make rent or ensure that the holidays are a little brighter, but it isn’t the end of our work. We will continue to fight for a full economic recovery while filling in the immediate gaps as we support each other through these tough times.”

The Executive Order will make available $168 million from the following funds: $148.9 million in anticipated reversions to the General Fund from the Medical Services Premium line due to lower than estimated growth in Medicaid enrollment and an extension of federal matching funds; $13.8 million in existing funds in the Disaster Emergency Fund; $5.3 million from the Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund. After these transfers, the State Emergency Reserve will have a remaining designated balance of approximately $150M.