From The Colorado Sun (Jesse Paul):
Top Democratic and Republican state lawmakers on Wednesday joined Gov. Jared Polis to unveil the broad strokes of a roughly $700 million state economic stimulus plan, most of which is set to go to “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects, including repairs to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels and Interstate 70 bridges
The shovel-ready projects will total $170 million, or about a quarter of all the spending. Hundreds of millions more is set to be spent on other, longer term infrastructure projects, like expanding broadband access and revitalizing main streets in Colorado cities and towns.
The remainder of the spending includes initiatives to invest in rural Colorado, support the recovery of small businesses, workforce training and development, affordable housing development and mental health. There’s also money for child care and support for schools and students…
The announcement comes as President Joe Biden is expected to sign a $1.9 trillion federal stimulus plan, which Congress approved Wednesday. State leaders were awaiting the details of that aid package — which includes billions of dollars for child care, education, unemployment and other needs in Colorado — before finalizing their own spending plan…
The money Colorado lawmakers are using to pay for the state stimulus plan comes from unexpected tax revenue.
The legislature slashed the state’s budget last year by about $3.5 billion in anticipation of an economic downtown because of the coronavirus pandemic. While there was a downturn, the economy has fared better than expected, leaving the General Assembly with more than $1 billion to allocate…
Under the stimulus plan, up to $131 million would go toward boosting agriculture and rural communities, including $20 million to $35 million in competitive grants for rural agriculture infrastructure investments and millions toward forest and watershed restoration projects to protect communities against wildfire.
Other spending priorities include:
$30 million on projects to revitalize community main streets $60 million to $80 million in matching funds for downtown revitalization efforts and to create more affordable housing options in urban areas $50 million to $75 million to expand broadband internet access $30 million to $40 million for existing clean energy programs
Small business support
$40 million to $50 million in sales tax relief for small restaurants and bars $20 million to $30 million toward lending institutions that cater to “historically underserved” entrepreneurs $10 million to $15 million in one-time grants to small businesses, with a priority for rural, women, minority and veteran-owned businesses
Community and school support
$10 million to $15 million to rent, lease or buy hotel rooms for unhoused individuals $8 million to $10 million in seed funding for a program to incentivize local governments to adopt affordable housing development policies $5 million to $10 million to support child care businesses $8 million to $9 million for mental health screenings in schools
$10 million to $25 million for forest restoration and wildfire recovery projects and another $10 million to $25 million toward watershed restoration grants $10 million to $15 million to create new job opportunities as part of the transition away from coal
$15 million to $25 million in grants to local workforce boards $10 million to $15 million to help provide scholarships for people with some college but no degree
Each proposal will come in the form of an individual bill. That legislation has yet to be released, so the details remain unclear.
Fenberg said he expects stimulus measures to start being introduced in a matter of weeks. Polis is pressuring the legislature to act quickly so that Colorado’s economic revival can begin as soon as possible. He wants the stimulus money to be spent in the next 18 months.