Gov. Polis Releases Balanced Budget Proposal That Fully Funds K-12 for First Time Since 2009, Focuses on More Housing Now, and Making Colorado One of the Ten Safest States

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Governor’s Budget Plan Establishes Responsible Reserves & Makes Transformational Investments 

DENVER - Today, as required under law, Governor Jared Polis released his balanced budget proposal for FY 2024-25, concurrently submitting his budget proposal to the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) of the General Assembly. Governor Polis’s budget proposal calls for fully funding public schools at a level consistent with the voter-approved Amendment 23 by eliminating the Budget Stabilization factor for the first time in 14 years.

“With this budget, we are finally fulfilling our promise to the voters to fully fund our schools,” said Governor Polis. “I am excited to work with the JBC and the General Assembly to increase teacher pay, reduce class size,  and make sure every Colorado student has access to an excellent school.”  

The Governor’s budget proposal helps hardworking Coloradans, ensures our economy can continue to thrive, and prepares the state for the future. The Governor’s budget proposal includes comprehensive plans to create more housing now, save people even more money on healthcare, make Colorado one of the ten safest states, improve schools, achieve 100% renewable energy by 2040 and balance the budget with record general fund reserves of fifteen percent while continuing to save Coloradans money. 

“This comprehensive budget plan reflects the voices of Coloradans with important investments to create more housing now, make Colorado one of the ten safest states, save people money on healthcare, invest in our workforce, and achieve our nation-leading renewable energy goals while maintaining responsible reserves for a rainy day,” said Governor Polis. 

Beyond providing free universal preschool which saves families an average of $6,000 per year, Governor Polis’s budget plan eliminates the Budget Stabilization Factor and fully funds the school finance formula for the first time through a K-12 total program increase of $564.1M — an average of $705 more per pupil or $15,500 for a classroom of 22 kids, this is on top of last year’s budget’s increase of $1,019 per pupil. 

More Housing Now: The Governor’s More Housing Now plan saves people money on housing costs by leveraging existing funding and tax credits to increase housing throughout Colorado. The Governor’s budget proposal includes $65 million to support the creation of new housing near transit, where people work or send their kids to school. An additional $35M would go toward the creation of the new Transit-Oriented Communities Infrastructure Fund to assist local governments with infrastructure costs related to building housing near transit and $30 million in affordable housing tax credits. 

Governor Polis proposed funding to support building more accessory dwelling units (ADUs) in communities. The budget proposes $18 million to fund the associated fees for local governments and assist with financing, and $16 million to create tax credits to support the creative sector with new housing units, placemaking, and revitalization projects. 

The budget proposal includes funding ($10M) for Strategic growth efforts across the state to foster collaboration and cooperation on local and regional housing needs. The budget proposal continues to support renters through over $30M in rental assistance and plans to provide longer-term resources through Proposition 123.

Making Colorado One of the Top Ten Safest States:  Governor Polis’s budget focuses on increasing tools and resources to reduce auto theft, supports community-led crime prevention, leverages new technology to prevent crime, helps victims recover, and prevents gun violence. This budget invests $39.6 million in evidence-based crime prevention, as well as critical interventions to disrupt crime where it is taking place. The public safety package strengthens existing programs that support victims and prevent targeted violence while creating new initiatives to further reduce violent crime and auto theft. These investments build on what we know works to improve public safety.

Strengthening Colorado’s Schools, Strengthening Higher Education and Colorado’s Workforce: In addition to fully funding our public schools, the budget proposal provides $8M to support science education and enrichment programs, $5 million for work-based learning aligned with the HB22-1215 task force, and Charter School Institute mill levy equalization. 

The Governor’s budget proposal will help hardworking Colorado families through a $3.5M investment that will bring in $35M in federal funds to increase food security through the Summer EBT program to help over 300,000 food-insecure children receive the nutrition they need in the summer. The proposal also would provide $21.1M for the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program to cap family copays at 7%, and continue other stimulus-funded policy changes to support families and save people money The Governor’s budget proposal also includes funding to address Child Care Expense Credits by combining and expanding them to ensure hard-working families can access this benefit and make child care more affordable. 

The budget proposal includes funding to enhance and maintain the landmark Universal Preschool Program by making key investments to improve the IT system to enhance the customer experience and matching process and help providers reach the newly developed quality standards proposed by the Department of Early Childhood.  This includes new funding for an ongoing UPK Help Desk to assist families and providers in navigating the systems. 

The Governor’s budget proposal provides funding for higher education and plans to strengthen the state’s workforce through funding ($33.4M) in operating support for public institutions of higher education to keep tuition rate increases for Colorado residents to less than half of the rate of inflation. The budget proposal also includes a $7.8M increase in state financial aid including expanding the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative and a new scholarship program for youth who have experienced homelessness providing $5M in grants and $20.0M in tax credits for Opportunity Now 2.0, a P3 approach that supports workforce development in in-demand areas ($2M in grants and $30M in tax credits) to expand apprenticeships and up to $4M to support groups that facilitate apprenticeships and $2.9M to improve skills-based hiring and create more pathways into public service which compliments Governor Polis’s executive actions related to apprenticeships. 

Saving People Even More Money on Healthcare and Behavioral Care: Governor Polis and Lt. Governor Primavera are focused on saving people money on health care and improving the state’s behavioral care system which is why this comprehensive budget proposal includes $26M to support high-acuity youth to help make sure children receive the care they need, $15M continued investment in Colorado’s public health infrastructure so we are prepared for future public health challenges, $14.3M to provide autism spectrum disorder coverage to all children enrolled in Colorado’s Children’s Basic Health Plan, $11M to increase the resources the Social Health Information Exchange contains that providers use to connect Coloradans to services people need, $8.5M to support behavioral health services in school including $6M for I Matter and $2.5M to support educators and mental health services and $4M to support a universal home-visiting pilot. 

Achieve 100% Renewable Energy by 2040 & Protecting Colorado’s Environment: Under Governor Polis’s leadership, Colorado is well on its way to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2040. 

This budget builds upon Governor Polis’s executive action and provides $2.1M to replace state government use of gas and diesel-powered garden equipment with electric equipment to lead by example in reducing pollution and improving air quality.

Working hand in hand with agricultural partners across the state, the budget proposal provides funding for further adoption of renewable energy in the agriculture sector and the budget proposal continues historic levels of funding to ensure sufficient water supply for Coloradans and the economy for generations to come.

The proposal provides funding to create a consumer protection framework to ensure fair and transparent pricing at public EV charging stations as well as Energy Performance Contracts to install solar panels on the state capitol complex and reduce energy consumption at Department of Corrections buildings.

The budget provides existing CDOT funds for the successful Zero Fare for Better Air during high ozone months and to continue the Zero Fare for Youth program that allows youth under 19 years of age to ride for free, $14M is dedicated toward improving air quality, $10M in refundable income tax credits for implementing sustainable agricultural practices, $4M is provided for environmental justice for enforcement and compliance of pollution regulations and increased state capacity to support vulnerable communities from new and emerging pollutants, $2.2M to protect biodiversity, funding to prevent wildfires along the Cumbres and Toltec railroad and continuing historic levels of investment into water quality,  quantity and infrastructure. 

Governor’s budget letter and slide presentation and resources with the Office of State Planning and Budgeting