DENVER — It’s the one piece of legislation that state lawmakers absolutely, positively have to hammer out each year.
House Bill 1336 — also known as the “long bill” and better known as the state budget plan for fiscal year 2014-15 — was signed into law April 30 by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The signing comes after six months of budget negotiations over how to allocate the state’s resources next year. The bill was sponsored by state Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, the chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee.
“This budget will help every community in Colorado,” said Rep. Duran in an announcement following the bill’s signing last week. “Whether it’s assisting with flood and wildfire recovery, historic investments in our education system, or increasing economic opportunity and security for all Coloradans, this bill will help move our state forward.”
Among the highlights of this year’s budget:
• Commits $144 million to recovery from the floods and wildfires of 2013.
• Invests $44 million in wildfire prevention, including nearly $20 million for light-weight aircraft to assist with early wildfire detection.
• Increases state funding for education by more than $400 per pupil and implements important reforms.
• Boosts funding to Colorado colleges and universities by $100 million.
• Implements economic development programs to boost key industries, create good-paying jobs and build a strong, sustainable economy.
• Increases funding for workforce development programs.
• Increases provider rates for every provider in the state and gives a lift to Colorado’s hard-working public employees.
• Increases the state reserve by more than $130 million, to 6.5 percent, to prepare for future emergencies and economic downturns.
“Our recovering economy allowed us to make these important investments,” said state Rep. Jenise May, D-Aurora, who is a member of the JBC. “It has been a long and sometimes challenging process, but we were able to balance competing interests to deliver a budget that will help residents across the state.”