DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis announced Monday plans for a $1.3 billion stimulus package to help Colorado recover following a year of devastating wildfires, spiking unemployment numbers and costs associated with the COVID-19 crisis.
Gov. Polis’ budget plan is three-fold: to restore major reductions that were made to key areas, provide an economic stimulus package that invests in jobs and growth, and save for the future. Gov. Polis also aims to reduce the deficit and to stimulate the economy now to help Colorado recover faster moving forward.
“This epidemic has exposed many of the weaknesses in our system and forced us to think about the ways that we can all do better,” Gov. Polis said.
The proposed economic stimulus and recovery package totals $1.3 billion to support local businesses, put Coloradans back to work, and invest in the state’s future, according to Gov. Polis.
Strategic investments fall into two categories: first, recovery and immediate actions to help residents through winter. This includes the distribution of a one-time payment of $375 to 435,000 Coloradans who had to file for unemployment during the pandemic. These payments will go out by the first week of December, according to Gov. Polis.
Another $105 million will be going to restaurants, bars and other businesses impacted by coronavirus restrictions.
The budget is also allocating $50 million to prevent evictions and help those who need housing assistance. An additional $50 million will help support childcare providers so Coloradans can get back to work. And $30 million will go toward grants for local law enforcement, which includes the purchase of additional body cameras.
Gov. Polis is also allocating $220 million to create jobs by investing in infrastructure, and another $140 million to invest in the workforce.
The plan also calls for restoring major reductions made to key areas in 2020-2021 and ensure access to critical services. The state is using $577 million in state and federal funds for mass COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, support for local health agencies, contact tracing and improved patient-care capacity in hospitals.
The state budget is also carving out $179 million to repay emergency spending from the state’s emergency reserve and another $200 million is set aside for additional COVID-19 response costs in 2021.
To aid Colorado’s wildfire season, Gov. Polis announced $78 million will help the state’s ability to prevent and respond to wildfires.
“This budget isn’t just about getting back to where we used to be; that wasn’t good enough. It’s about taking this challenging time, this difficult time, to utilize lessons learned, and boldly forge a path that positions our state for the future in a more equitable way by making key strategic investments to show that we build back stronger, more inclusive and more resilient,” Gov. Polis said.