The Colorado Legislature Returns: What has been accomplished and what is left?

The full General Assembly officially returned to the Capitol on Tuesday, May 26th after a 2 month-long suspended session. And the state’s budget writers, who returned a few weeks ago, put the finishing touches on the FY20-21 budget last Friday.  

With COVID-19’s impact on the economy, tax revenue will be drastically decreased for the upcoming budget, leaving the Joint Budget Committee a $3.4 billion hole to fill. Check out where some of the cuts are coming from: 

  • K-12. In total, the cut is $724 million to K-12 education. Balancing the state budget is impossible without reducing K-12 education because it makes up 40% of the General Fund appropriations.  This reduction in funding could be accomplished through a higher budget stabilization factor (formerly known as the negative factor), which reduces per pupil funding by a percentage for all districts that receive state funds, or through changes to the school finance formula.   
  • Higher Education. Higher education institutions took a 58% reduction to base state funding, totaling a $493 million cut.  However, the federal funds Governor Polis allocated to higher education institutions will provide some cushion, but these funds have restrictions related to COVID-19.   

In related funding news, Governor Polis issued an executive order on May 18th directing how federal stimulus funding (known as the CARES Act) should be allocated. The Order allocates $547 million to the Department of Education to address the increased number of at-risk students and to facilitate distance learning and other changes to instruction, $450 million to the Department of Higher Education, among other uses.   

This week the General Assembly is set to return to finish up the 2020 legislative session.  Session is expected to last 3 weeks with the goal of passing critical bills such as the budget, school finance, and bills related to COVID-19 response. Stay tuned to Colorado Succeeds for more updates. 

Kelly Caufield

Vice President of Government Affairs
Colorado Succeeds