DENVER — Friday, May 26, 2017 — Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed SB17-254 “2017-18 Long Appropriations Bill” into law.
SB17-254 establishes an operating budget of $28.7 billion from all fund sources in FY 2017-18, with $10.6 billion from the General Fund. This represents a 5.8 percent increase over FY 2016-17 total funds appropriations, and a 5.7 percent General Fund increase.
"This bill, and the passage of the hospital provider fee enterprise, allowed us to avoid draconian decisions to important parts of the budget and protected funding for health care and schools,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “I applaud the commitment and collaboration of all of the participants in this process as they once again showed a spirit of bipartisanship that effectively serves the the people of Colorado.”
The next fiscal year’s budget include these noteworthy items:
- K-12 Education — With the passage of the annual School Finance Act, funding for primary and secondary education will increase with inflation and enrollment over the prior year. In addition, the negative factor is reduced to $828.3 million for FY 2017-18, $2.4 million below the $830.7 million contained in the initial FY 2016-17 appropriation.
- Housing for at-risk populations — This budget provides $15.3 million from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund to provide permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing assistance for individuals with behavioral health needs, and for individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. By providing stable housing, which includes rental assistance and supportive services, we expect to reduce incarceration, hospitalization, and homelessness for many of Colorado’s most vulnerable citizens.
- Unregulated “Gray Market” Medical Marijuana Activity — HB17-1220 and HB17-1221 create the authority and resources needed to combat and prevent the illegal diversion of medical marijuana to unregulated markets, or “gray market” activity. In addition to placing a new 12-plant cap on the number of plants that can be possessed or grown on a residential property, these bills also create a grant program totaling $5.9 million from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund reimburse local governments for law enforcement and prosecution costs associated with gray and black marijuana markets.
- School Health Professionals Grant Program — The Department of Education received an increase of $9.7 million from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund to augment a program that offers matching grants to School Districts, Local Education Authorities, and charter schools to increase the presence of health professionals in secondary schools. These grants are estimated to increase by 150 the number of school health professionals statewide, providing education, universal screening, referral, and care coordination for students with substance abuse and other behavioral health needs.
- Addressing Mental Health in Colorado’s Criminal Justice System — Through SB17-207, the Department of Human Services received $7.1 million from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund aimed at ending the use of jails for holding people who are experiencing a mental health crisis, and to implement criminal justice diversion programs at the local level. These initiatives will help direct individuals with immediate mental health and substance needs to more appropriate services outside the criminal justice system.
Gov. Hickenlooper extended sincere gratitude for the work performed by the Joint Budget Committee members and staff and the staff of the Office of State Planning and Budgeting.
Click to view the budget transmittal letter, which includes information about the footnotes included in the Long Bill.