Community Town Hall
Saturday April 23, 10 AM
El Pueblo History Museum
301 North Union
Pueblo, CO 81003
Members of the Colorado Fiscal Institute will present on TABOR, Education, Expected Projects and the Budget.
As the 70th General Assembly moves into the home stretch, I have been pleased with much of the progress we have made on important issues facing our state. While there is still much work to be done, I am excited to continue working on behalf of Pueblo and Southern Colorado.
After two days of floor work, debate, and over 30 amendments; the State Senate passed the 2016-2017 budget, HB 16-1405, on a 30-5 vote last week. As part of the State’s Budget process, I offered an amendment which passed on a bipartisan 28-7 vote, to ensure the budget reflected the interests of the citizens of Southern Colorado.
In working with the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) members we were able to secure an additional $750,000 for the Colorado State Fair. As a strong champion for the Fair, I will continue to advocate for funding to preserve and showcase Colorado’s agricultural heritage.
In addition, the "negative factor” was lowered to $831 million earlier this year and we managed to hold it level for the next school year. We funded the creation of 100 new caseworker positions in county departments of Social Services across the state. This is the second year of this initiative to address the significant shortage of workers that was identified in a study completed two years ago. The Division of Youth Corrections also received funding to hire additional officers to address staff-to-offender ratios to improve safety.
I was also able to ensure Pueblo Community College (PCC) received an estimated $5.4 million towards improvements for the Mike Davis Building. PCC also received $913,000 for security doors and more than $900,000 for IT computer technology software.
Lastly, we finalized the level of General Fund commitment to the Highway Users Tax Fund for the current and upcoming budget year. By setting firm commitments, the JBC acted to nail down FYY 2015-16 and 2016-17 amounts at $199 and $158 million, respectively. This is the first time we've seen this much General Fund committed to highways for quite a few years. It's not nearly enough to meet current needs, but it helps move some crucial projects forward. Included in the capital and controlled maintenance budget is money for more repairs on the Capitol. Roof replacement happens next year, and restoration work on the interior continues.
In a year when the General Assembly was staring down a major deficit and an overall budget crisis; I am glad we were able to pass a balanced budget that slightly increases per-pupil spending in K-12 education, holds the negative factor flat, and makes no cuts to provider rates.
This session we also acknowledged Colorado’s First Responders with SJR16-026 “First Responder’s Appreciation Day” at the Capitol. I am honored to have the opportunity to sponsor a resolution for all of the men and women who serve as first responders of Colorado. These individuals both career and volunteer, risk their own safety in the performance of duties to protect our citizens. Also, I want to thank the families of our first responders for supporting their loved ones who put their lives on the line to assist citizens every day.
Since the most recent newsletter, several pieces of legislation have made progress into becoming law, such as:
HB16-1170 “Sunset Division Racing” addresses racing events such as horse and greyhound racing. This bill would continue the Division of Racing Events and Colorado Racing Commission within the Department of Revenue. This bill passed unanimously 35-0 in the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
HB16-1106 “Honoring Colorado Pioneer Heritage Passes” will enable counties to proceed with identifying historic trails across the state of Colorado. This bill will support efforts to identify landmarks, draw in tourism, and boost business for Main Street. The pioneer trails are an integral part of our history and heritage. The Zebulon Pike and Charles Goodnight trails are examples of historic pioneer trails, which honor our rich history and supports economic tourism. HB16-1106 passed unanimously 34-0 in the Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature.
In The Process
SB16-134 “Veteran’s Professional Licensing” is legislation that requires the state to consider veteran’s education and training obtained while in service toward civilian qualifications for a commercial driver’s license. The state may then decide to credit their experience toward a veteran’s license, certification, or registration. I am proud to sponsor a bill that will help our veterans find a job when they come home. As a Marine, I know how demanding and rigorous military education and training is. SB16-134 is now in the House of Representatives.
As we near the end of session, my office and I are still working hard to ensure Southern Colorado’s needs are met. As always, if my office can be of any assistance feel free to reach out via telephone: (303)-866-4878, or by email: email@example.com.
Friendly Harbor Breakfast First Responders Day at the Capitol