Late April Greetings to Everyone in Eagle County and Routt County!

 

We are nearing the final day of the 2015 Legislative Session in Denver,  May 6.

So far this session has been both productive and very challenging.  We still have dozens of bills to consider. Many have just come over from the Senate, including some that have languished there since early in the Session. Plus, we have a large number of late bills just introduced.

Bills left to consider in the House include the following issues:

  • Transfer of our public lands from Federal to State management
  • Student testing and teacher evaluation in public schools
  • District liability for violence in a school
  • The annual school finance act
  • HOAs and construction defects
  • Medicaid and other provider fees
  • Conservation easements
  • Transportation funding via complex transfer formulae and via potential bonded indebtedness
  • And many more

 

On April 24, the Governor signed our FY 2015-2016 balanced, bipartisan budget into law. We can all be proud that once again we have invested in a brighter future for all Coloradans, balanced the budget, and put money into our rainy day fund.

 

This year's budget was especially challenging. Ironically, our post recession recovery should have led to  better funding for  priorities that were drastically cut during the recession. For example, we should have been able to lower the negative factor for public K-12 by another $200 million that had been forecast and invest the $200 million on Transportation stipulated in the "228" statutory transfer trigger.

 

Instead the TABOR Amendment "ratcheting effect" was triggered by the increase in Coloradans personal income, so that we had to to take $244 million off the top for constitutionally required tax refunds.

 

Despite these fiscal constraints, we were  able to work together to build a budget consensus across the aisle and between the House and the Senate to fund some of the needs, including:

 

The FY2015-2016 budget includes:

  • $209 million in increased funding for K-12 education, including $25 million to buy down the “negative factor”, lowering that deficit to $855 million.
  • $105 million in increased funding for higher education to reduce tuition increases
  • An increase of more than $100 million in transportation funding, the first increase in 6 years
  • A 1.7 percent rate increase for social services providers to help expand the provider network and improve access to quality care
  • $7.6 million increase to the Senior Citizen and Disabled Veteran   Property Tax Exemption
  • $613 million for Colorado’s “rainy day” reserve

 

My bills are in various stages.

Three have been signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper, including HB1224, a bipartisan bill to clarify funding and accounting rules and remove red tape for Colorado Mountain College.

 

HB1234, a tax deduction to help beginning farmers and ranchers, passed with bipartisan support out of the House and will be heard soon in Senate Finance.

 

HB1252, my bill to renew the Healthy Rivers voluntary tax check- off passed out of the House and out of Senate Finance. It will be up in Senate Appropriations next.

 

HB1003, Safe Routes to School Funding, co prime sponsored with Representative Max Tyler (D-Lakewood) just passed third reading, final passage out of the House. Now the Senate will consider it.

 

HB1228, concerning excise taxes on propane, co primed with Republican Rep. Jon Becker who represents 7 rural Eastern Plains counties, just passed the House unanimously on third reading, final passage. It now goes to the Senate.

 

HB1364, concerning specifying inspections for small hydro electric projects(less than 100KW) with Representative Don Coram (R-Montrose) passed out of House Transportation /Energy last week and will be heard this week by the full House on second reading.

 

HB1173. I was very disappointed that due to rampant misinformation about our bill to clarify I70 winter Traction requirements, pressure from an extreme lobbying group, and Washington style politics in the Senate, the bill was amended in the Senate to be another study of I70.

 

Yours for a just, equitable, sustainable, and prosperous Colorado for all.

 

 

Diane Mitsch Bush

Representative

Colorado State House of Representatives,

District 26-Eagle County and Routt County

P.O. Box 770535

Steamboat Springs, CO 80477

Paid for by Citizens to Elect Diane Mitsch Bush for Colorado HD 26  •  Tessa Kirchner, Treasurer  •  ©2012-2017 Diane For Colorado