Economic relief tops Colorado lawmakers’ list of legislative priorities for 2021 session

Politics
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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado lawmakers will be back under the Capitol dome soon. After convening for a for a few days last month, lawmakers hope to return safely to help Coloradans recover from the pandemic.

After a year of interruptions, Colorado lawmakers have many ideas they plan to take to the floor but leaders in both chambers say they’re focused on the bigger picture.

Senate President Leroy Garcia and House Majority Leader Daneya Esgar say lawmakers plan to pick up where they left during special session, focusing on pandemic relief.

“We’re not out of the woods in regard to this pandemic. In many regards, we are still seeing the effects of it,” Garcia said.

“We are focusing on this economic stimulus idea. We want to make sure we are still looking at housing assistance, agricultural relief, transportation funding and reducing costs of living expenses — whether it’s health care, or prescription drugs or housing. And we need to continue focusing on issues of behavioral health,” Esgar said.

When they convened late last year, lawmakers passed more than $290 million in stimulus funding for Coloradans. With a new administration in Washington, the dollar amount they plan to allocate this time remains unclear.

“I think we are all waiting to see what happens on the federal level, what actually comes into Colorado. We have less dollars to really utilize than the federal government does in Colorado,” Esgar said. “We have a balanced budget, and we have to keep a balanced budget. So what the federal government does is really going to be crucial and important to some of the decisions we are going to make.”

Last month, Gov. Jared Polis submitted a revised budget proposal requesting $35 billion for the fiscal year starting this July. His plan asks for a $41 million boost for K-12 education.

“We really have to be focused on returning students to the classroom and focused on instruction and less on some of the testing this year,” Garcia said.

Lawmakers were able to get relief passed in a bipartisan manner during special session. Most lawmakers are on board with providing funding to people who need it, but we can expect to see debate on how much money lawmakers will designate to each area.

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