Gov. Polis and Legislative Leadership Announce Agreement on the Disbursement of Federal CARES Act Funds to Immediately Respond to the COVID-19 Health and Economic Crisis

Monday, May 18, 2020

DENVER - Governor Jared Polis, in collaboration with legislative leadership, announced today the allocation of $1.674 billion in federal funds from the CARES Act that will immediately support the State’s robust response to the COVID-19 crisis as well as key investments needed for economic recovery. 


“COVID-19 has taken the lives of too many Coloradans and disrupted our way of life, and this has been a very challenging time for our entire state. I am grateful for the support we have received from the federal government, but there will still be hardship ahead. This immediate disbursement ensures that no Coloradan has to go without a hospital bed when they need one, that the state can continue to scale up testing and containment, and protect our most vulnerable. It allows parents to return to work by ensuring that our schools have needed resources to adapt to our new reality and helps our frontline local governments in their coronavirus response. My administration is working closely in a bipartisan way with the federal delegation and legislative leadership to do everything in our power to help Coloradans overcome this generational challenge. The steps we are taking now will allow us to increase much needed economic activity in our state,” said Gov. Polis.


“This agreement quickly channels over $1.6 billion directly to our school districts, universities and local governments to help them retain first responders, support our health care workforce, protect our veterans and seniors and rapidly expand contact tracing so we can safely restart our economy. Schools and universities can use it to help them prepare for the fall so parents can go back to work and we can rebuild our workforce. I look forward to the bipartisan work ahead to allocate the remaining funds and pass legislation that helps Coloradans and small businesses get through this crisis.” Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. 


“The CARES Act funding is an indispensable lifeline for our state––helping us ease the immediate economic and public health pains caused by COVID-19. But it’s nowhere near enough in terms of recovery,” said Senate President Leroy Garcia. “As members of the legislature, we will continue working hard alongside the Governor and the Joint Budget Committee to protect Coloradans during this challenging time. However we need Congress to do much more, especially for those communities like mine in Pueblo that the CARES Act explicitly left behind.”


Governor Polis signed an Executive Order today authorizing the following transfers:

  1. For Medical expenses and Public health expenses incurred or expected to be incurred in the State’s Disaster Emergency Fund, $48 million transferred for FY 2019-20 and $157 million set-aside for FY 2020-21. This includes amounts expected to be distributed to local public health agencies for COVID-19 response.

  2. For Expenditures to comply with public health measures pertaining to maintaining veterans living facilities, State prisons and other State facilities with congregate care, including sanitation and effectively implementing social distancing measures, $2 million transferred for FY 2019-20 and $8 million set-aside for FY 2020-21. These funds will be available to improve the safety of our prisons, veterans living facilities, youth services centers, and mental health facilities.

  3. For Expenditures incurred to respond to second-order effects of the emergency, including caseload increases for at-risk pupils and human services programs during the COVID-19-driven recession, $2 million transferred for FY 2019-20 and $57 million set aside for FY 2020-21.

  4. For Expenses to respond to second-order effects of the emergency, including payments for emergency rental and mortgage assistance, as well as additional direct assistance where appropriate, for individuals that have been economically impacted by COVID-19, with preference given to individuals that are ineligible for other forms of assistance such as unemployment insurance, food benefits, or direct federal stimulus payments, $10 million transferred for FY 2019-20.

  5. For Expenses associated with the provision of economic support in connection with the COVID-19 public health emergency, including payments to stimulate the economy by supporting Colorado’s workforce with school-aged children, $500 million transferred to local school districts and proportionally by student population to the Charter School Institute and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind and $25,000 to each Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) in the state for a total of $510 million above the Constitutionally required state share of public school finance to increase free instructional hours for our kindergarten through 12th grade education system while complying with COVID-19 public health orders, including facilitating distance learning and social distancing for in-person contact hours, and mitigating lost learning, and $450 million transferred to public institutions of higher education to increase student retention and completions, given Colorado’s critical shortage of skilled workforce. 

  6. For Payroll expenses and other necessary State expenditures for public safety, public health, health care, human services, and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, $85 million set aside for FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21, including at the Office of the State Controller for expenses related to accounting for and monitoring the use of federal funds related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

  7. Expenses of local governments that did not receive a direct distribution of funds in the CARES Act to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures, $275 million for FY 2019-20 and FY 2020-21. 


These resources will support local communities both directly, as funds flow from State agencies to local partners, and indirectly. A significant portion of the allocation for the public health response will flow directly to local county public health agencies to ensure we have a robust statewide response through testing and contact tracing.  In addition to these funds, our local communities are receiving significant federal resources, including $125 million to Colorado communities from the Department of Health and Human Services, more than $16 million in Community Development Block Grants, $8 million in Community Services Block Grants, and an estimated $30 million to local governments for COVID-19 testing. 


In addition to these funds, the state of Colorado has already received or is expected to receive, several direct transfers to fulfill critical needs including $2.25 million and as much as $8 million for crisis counseling and mental health support, $15.4 million in LEAP funds to help Coloradans pay their home heating bills, and $9.1 million in Byrne Justice Assistance grants to support local law enforcement adopt to COVID-19.  The administration looks forward to engaging with the legislature on how to best serve Coloradans with these funds.  


The Governor sent a letter to the legislature today. 


The remaining $70 million in unallocated funds will be transferred to the General Fund for appropriations for when the legislative session resumes.