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Gov. Polis presents first budget proposal to lawmakers

Posted at 6:03 PM, Jan 16, 2019

COLORADO- In his first month in office, Gov. Jared Polis is outlining his plans to pay for the promises he made on the campaign trail.

The Governor presented his proposal to the Joint Budget Committee Wednesday afternoon.

In the meeting, he outlined his ideas to make items like free full-day Kindergarten, which he says would cost $227 million.

When it comes to paying for it, the Governor’s proposal says more revenue from property taxes is what will make it happen.

‘So the simple fact that local and state government is now receiving more in tax dollars towards K-12 education, enables the governor to be able to pay for this full day kindergarten, without having to necessarily increase taxes or at least that’s how it looks right now,’ said Tatiana Bailey, Director of the UCCS Economic Forum.

Many districts in Colorado offer full-day Kindergarten, either for free or with tuition.

However, Gov. Polis’ plan outlines that for districts that already offer full-day Kindergarten they could use the money it would free up for other resources the district needs.

‘If this proposal passes, that will free up about 100 million dollars for those school districts,’ said Bailey.

Some of those items could be teacher pay and reducing class sizes.

Another portion of Gov. Polis’ proposal is that it increases the ‘Rainy Day Fund’, in the event the economy takes a downturn.

‘Sure enough business cycles happen and this year or next, most likely we will have a downturn,’ said Bailey.

Bailey also adds that by adding money to the Rainy Day Fund, it can make the Full Day Kindergarten plan sustainable.

Other requests made by Gov. Polis included adding a Family and Medical Leave program for state employees and an across the board 3% salary increase, a change from a merit-based salary increase.

Gov. Polis’ says the raise is needed due to Colorado’s cost of living.

In Wednesday’s committee meeting, Gov. Polis added that if the federal government shutdown continues for another month or two- it could have an impact on the state’s budget and adjustments may be needed.