LegislatureNewsState budget

Colorado House Black Caucus counts $7.1M in budget wins

Author: Joey Bunch - March 30, 2018 - Updated: April 5, 2018

Colorado House Black CaucusThe Colorado House Black Caucus celebrated adding six amendments worth $7.1 million into the proposed state budget. Members are, from left, Reps. Tony Exum Sr., Dominique Jackson, Janet Buckner, Jovan Melton, Leslie Herod and James Coleman. (Photo courtesy of House Black Caucus).

DENVER — The largest group of black lawmakers in Colorado history touted the amendments they secured in the House version of the state budget Thursday.

The House Black Caucus took credit for six amendments putting more than $7.1 million into mentoring programs, community corrections treatment services, mental health for peace officers, substance abuse treatment for expecting mothers, aid to vocational schools and reinstituting money for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The House, with a solid Democratic majority, passed a $28.9 billion budget Thursday, The proposals will be debated by the Republican-led Senate next week, then a compromise must be struck, as required by the state constitution, before the session ends on May 9.

Democratic Reps. Janet Buckner of Aurora, James Coleman of Denver, Tony Exum of Colorado Springs, Leslie Herod of Denver, Dominique Jackson of Denver, and Jovan Melton of Aurora co-sponsored a budget amendment for $1 million for the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program. This was the second year the House Black Caucus successfully led this effort, which provides grants to youth organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado.

“I am so impressed with the huge impact the Tony Grampsas grants program has across our state,” Jackson said in a statement. “I can count numerous services in my district in both Aurora and Arapahoe County that do everything from support our kids’ education to engage children with the great outdoors.”

Herod co-sponsored an amendment with House Speaker Crisanta Duran of Denver to put $2 million into the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the subject of partisan wrangling this session.

“Discrimination happens in Colorado every single day,” Herod stated. “The Civil Rights Division provides an opportunity for Coloradans to defend their rights and pursue a remedy when discrimination occurs.”

Coleman secured $2 million for mental health support for co-responders and peace officers to help de-escalate future conflicts, the caucus said in a press release.

“With this passage of this amendment I want to see us start to rebuild relationships with the community and law enforcement,” Coleman said in a statement.

Buckner sponsored an amendment that would put $1.2 million more into vocational schools such as the Pickens Technical School in Aurora and Emily Griffith Technical School in Denver.

“Area technical colleges annually produce 30 percent of all career and technical education certificates and are often the gateway for many first generation college students,” Buckner said in the press release.

Two other Herod amendments supported by the entire caucus put $300,000 more for treatment in community corrections and $650,000 into a substance abuse program for expectant mothers called Special Connections.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.