Free all-day kindergarten key point in Gov. Polis’ budget plan

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DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis laid out the latest state budget plan Tuesday via tweet, emphasizing the need to make free full-day kindergarten available to all families.

In the tweet, Polis said he feels the budget represents the values of Colorado and makes it a priority to “build a Colorado for all.”

The budget is largely consumed with language regarding education and healthcare.

Polis intends to make good on his campaign promise to provide free, full-day kindergarten to every child in Colorado, saying progress has been made over the years but there are still 13,000 children without access to the service.

Polis states that, of those that do have access, many are charged tuition that sometimes exceeds $500 a month. The discrepancy, he says, deprives some children of educational opportunity at a crucial time in their development.

The budget outlines a plan to redirect $100 million to other district priorities, such as increasing teacher pay and reducing class sizes.

Referencing health care promises, Polis notes the immediate establishment of the first-ever Office of Saving People Money on Health Care, saying “we aren’t giving this office a fancy name to make it sound important. Instead we’re giving it a simple name because it is important.”

Bringing down the cost of prescription drugs and creating a plan to “provide insurance for insurance companies to help cover health care costs for patients with the most expensive ailments, reducing premiums in the individual market” is also mentioned.

The budget also addresses the intention to establish a paid family and medical leave program in Colorado, and outlines goals to combat the opioid epidemic, which took more than 550 lives in Colorado last year.

Other proposals include adding 16 employees to the state’s oil and gas regulatory body and expanding a program allowing immigrants who are in the country illegally to obtain or renew Colorado driver’s licenses.

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