The Joint Budget Committee is back at work, getting staff briefings and holding hearings with cabinet directors from all the Departments of state government. The Attorney General, the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, the Adjutant General of the Colorado National Guard and the Secretary of State – just to name a few of the more prominent roles – all appear before the JBC to defend their budget requests. It’s the Legislature’s best opportunity to influence how the Executive Branch is implementing the laws. Click here for our schedule.
Since the JBC last met, Rep. Claire Levy resigned from the Legislature. Her seat on the JBC was filled by Rep. Jenise May, who has already demonstrated herself to be a strong addition to the committee. She’s retired from many years in state government working for the Dept of Human Services. Her knowledge of human services programs and departmental budget processes is going to make her a valuable and effective member of the JBC. And on our first meeting of the new budget cycle I passed the gavel to Rep. Crisanta Duran who took over as the new Chair of the JBC. The Chair rotates between the Senate and House each year, so I’m now the Vice-Chair of the JBC for the remainder of the 69th General Assembly.
On November 1, Governor Hickenlooper submitted his budget request for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014. The total budget is $24.1 billion, with $9 billion of that coming from the General Fund. Gov. Hickenlooper has asked the Legislature to prioritize the repayment of disaster emergency funds, increasing reserves and funding Higher Education. Other highlights of his budget initiatives include infrastructure investments such as modernization of DMV computer systems with a goal of reducing wait times for driver’s license renewals. Also proposed is elimination of another waiting list for developmental disability services, this time for adults. Waiting lists for kids were addressed in the 2013 session. Click here for details on Gov. Hickenlooper’s proposed budget.
The JBC spends five months preparing the state budget for consideration by the full Legislature. The Governor’s budget request is just a starting point for our deliberations; we can write the budget however we want – so long as the Governor signs the bill. If all goes according to schedule, the Long Bill will be introduced in the Senate on my birthday. What better way…?