Colorado’s budget is nearly $4 billion bigger than last year. Here’s how the state will likely spend your money.

The first thing to know about the proposed budget for Colorado’s 2021-22 fiscal year is that it’s a whole lot bigger than anyone at the Statehouse had planned for. At $34.1 billion, it’s close to $4 billion fatter than what the state is spending in the current fiscal year.

The budget, which will take effect July 1, has been workshopped for five months by the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee and began wending its way through the Statehouse this week. On Thursday, the Senate weighed — and mostly rejected — dozens of amendments. It’ll pass the Senate on Friday and head to the House next week, then eventually to the governor’s desk.

Here’s a look at some of the most significant spending proposals in this year’s budget (the figures are subject to change in the coming days), which pays for every state department, and then some.

Department of Health Care Policy and Financing: $13.2 billion

This agency gets the biggest chunk of the budget every year, by far, as it houses Medicaid administration. Usually, Colorado splits the costs for the health care program that serves low-income adults with the federal government, but this year D.C. is kicking in a bit more — 56.2%.

Helen H. Richardson, The Denver PostThe hallways inside Adams City High School are readied for the arrival of students back to the classrooms with reminder signs to wear masks and decals on the floors for distancing at Adams City High School in Commerce City on Jan. 27, 2021.Department of Education: $5.8 billion

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The K-12 agency sees the most discretionary spending (that is, from the general fund) in the state. Between a $480 million contribution from the legislature and another $1 billion-plus coming from the Biden administration, lawmakers are planning for more per-pupil spending than they’ve been able to afford in a decade. The Senate also passed a bipartisan amendment to provide an extra 7% ($424) per student for those with the highest needs, such as blindness or traumatic brain injury.

Department of Higher Education: $5.05 billion

State-run colleges and universities were cut by a whopping 58% last year, though federal pandemic money offset that somewhat. But Colorado can’t count on that federal money to keep the higher education system afloat forever, so the budget proposes not only to restore last year’s cuts but also add another $100 million for first-generation students and those from underrepresented communities.

Department of Human Services: $2.4 billion

Among the significant spending increases planned for this agency: $910,000 for behavioral health services for children in crisis, $1 million for outreach to people eligible for federal food benefits and $2 million for school lunch funding.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver PostOlder Interstate 70, at left, overlooks the newly constructed underpass portion of the highway’s ongoing expansion project in Denver on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. The underpass, seen with jet fans above, will service both east and westbound traffic when opened at which point the current west and eastbound portion of I-70 will begin reconstruction for future eastbound only traffic. The portion aboveground will be landscaped …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Politics

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