Committee Teamwork Gives Budget Bill Early Boost

DENVER, Colo. -- Months of collaboration and consensus-building between members of the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee paid off Monday, with unanimous passage of the sometimes-contentious “long bill” by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

JBC Chairman Senator Kent Lambert credited a transparent process and the cooperative attitude of fellow committee members with the budget bill’s early success, while acknowledging that there were sure to be speed bumps ahead. 

“Every member of the committee, whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, worked hard to produce a budget that could win the acceptance of both houses of the legislature,” said Lambert (R-Colorado Springs). “I credit this initial success to their ability to rise above partisanship in favor of a reasonable, balanced, consensus-oriented approach.” 

Lambert said he hoped that example of professionalism, cooperation and collegiality would set the tone as the budget debate unfolds. The budget bill is next scheduled to be debated by the Senate as a whole, before moving to the House for action. 

Key 2015/16 budget highlights include: 

--Total gross general fund revenues largest in state history: $10.25 billion 

--General Fund revenue growth: 4.9% in FY13/14; 7.6% in FY 14/15; 6.2% in FY 15/16 

--TABOR refund to be returned to taxpayers: $69.7 million (FY14/15) $116.8 million (FY15/16) 

--Total transfers to State Education Fund: $563.3 million 

--TABOR Emergency Reserve: $386.7 million 

--Year-End General Fund Statutory Reserve: 6.5% in both FY14/15 and FY15/16 

--Year-over-year general fund increase to K-12 is $216 million. 

--JBC unanimously approved a 3.5% increase in K-12 funding. 

--Medicaid increased by 12% (primarily from increased caseload due to Obamacare mandates and Medicaid expansion.) 

--Year-over-year General Fund increase to higher education of $95 million. 

--$22 million approved for need-based student aid. 

--The Department of Higher Education received an overall 11% increase in funding over last year. 

--All higher education institutions will receive a minimum 10% increase over last year. 

--Increased state salaries by 1% and merit pay by 1% 

--Increased non-Health Service Premium provider rates by 1.7% (The Governor’s request was 1%) 

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