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Funding for civil rights agency now in the 2018-19 Colo. budget

Author: Marianne Goodland - April 12, 2018 - Updated: April 23, 2018

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Lydia Macy, 17, left, and Mira Gottlieb, 16, both of Berkeley, Calif., rally outside of the Supreme Court which is hearing the ‘Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission’ on Dec. 5 in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

UPDATE: The Senate re-adopted the 2018-19 state budget Thursday on a 31-4 vote after about $30 million in spending was added to the budget. The House also re-passed the bill Thursday on a 47-16 vote. House Bill 1322 now heads to the governor for signing; he has 10 days after it is received by his office to do so.

After months of drama over the Division of Civil Rights and Colorado Civil Rights Commission, a budget committee Wednesday quietly ensured the agency will be funded in 2018-19, should a related bill pass the General Assembly.

The Joint Budget Committee, acting as the conference committee on the $28.9 billion state budget, approved amendments to the budget that ensured funding for the civil rights agency will be included in the 2018-19 budget.

The 2018-19 state budget is back in the hands of House and Senate lawmakers after the JBC on Wednesday ironed out differences in the versions passed in the last three weeks. Both the Senate and House added millions of dollars in spending — for school safety, rural broadband, hikes in staff salaries at state mental facilities, and film incentives — through 41 amendments.

There was no discussion by the conference committee on the amendments passed by both the House and Senate that put $2.1 million for the civil rights agency into the budget. The JBC deadlocked on a 3-3 vote along party lines in February on continuation funding for the agency.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will review a bill on April 18 that seeks to reauthorize the civil rights agency.

Amendments that won bipartisan support in both the House and Senate had the best chance of surviving the ax that fell Wednesday.

What the JBC adopted:

  • $35 million to fund safety improvements for school facilities. The House amendment tapped general fund dollars; the Senate tapped dollars from the State Education Fund. The JBC went with the Senate version. Originally, both amendments would also have paid for hiring more school resource officers, but the conference committee struck that part of the amendments, noting the dollars were one-time only and not appropriate for making personnel decisions.
  • $750,000 for film incentives, restored. The Senate attempted to cut that funding but the amendment was not adopted by the conference committee.
  • $6 million from marijuana tax revenues to boost funding for the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund.
  • $2 million for the peace officers mental health support fund.
  • $6.4 million for provider rates for homemakers, personal care and other services provided by the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.
  • $9.4 million to boost staff salaries at the Fort Logan and Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.

What fell by the wayside:

  • $8 million for rural broadband from the general fund. JBC members noted they are sponsoring a bill that would cover those costs.
  • A Senate amendment to sweep $225,000 from funding for the governor’s broadband office. These dollars would have gone to a separate broadband fund within the Department of Regulatory Agencies.

What didn’t get done: House Bill 1340, which sets aside $495 million for transportation funding. The bill was amended in the Senate to remove a formula on how the dollars would be divvied up, but the conference committee postponed action on it to a later date, likely awaiting a final decision on Senate Bill 1, which dictates how the dollars will be spent.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.