Democrats in the Colorado legislature will sacrifice parts of their agenda or find politically risky ways to pay for it
Two federal health care programs – the Children’s Health Insurance Program and a supplemental funding program for hospitals — are scheduled to reduce their payments to Colorado by nearly $70 million next year.
Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, has asked again for $69 million he was denied last session to expand the state preschool program, provide paid family leave to state employees and stash money in the rainy day fund.
“We’re in a really tough place,” state Sen. Dominick Moreno, a Democratic budget writer from Commerce City, told The Colorado Sun in an interview. “And I think it’s going to mean that there’s a lot more scrutiny on how we proceed, on what kind of policy changes we consider.”
Prop. CC, the measure to permanently eliminate the state revenue cap, along with the refunds owed under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, would have alleviated much of the budget pressure, providing lawmakers as much as $1 billion in new revenue to spend over the next two years under some estimates. But voters resoundingly rejected the TABOR overhaul in the low-turnout contest earlier this month.
Now, Democrats will have to choose between sacrificing parts of their ambitious agenda, or finding creative – and politically risky – ways to pay for it. That could include strategies that have worked in the past, like raising new fees to fund public programs or exempting existing fees from the TABOR cap.