Gov. Polis Unveils Budget Proposal That Would Boost Spending On Parks, School Safety And Preschool

Gov. Jared Polis has unveiled a budget proposal for 2020-21 that would expand the capacity at some state parks and boost spending on school safety in the wake of the deadly shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch.

Polis’ spending plan would also provide about eight weeks of paid family leave for all state employees.

The 2020-21 budget package is about 3%, or $897 million, higher than the current budget. It calls for a $13.8 billion general fund.

When he briefed reporters on his proposal at the Capitol on Friday, Polis sought to temper expectations about his first spending plan.

“It’s not all the resources you need to reduce traffic congestion immediately or all the funding needs in our schools, but we absolutely can show substantial increases in investment in all of those areas,” he said.

Most of the current budget passed by lawmakers in April was written by former Gov. John Hickenlooper. But Polis put his mark on this year’s spending plan by successfully obtaining the money to pay for full-day kindergarten classes around the state.

Polis said his latest budget proposal continues to focus on early childhood education, with $27.5 million in new spending to increase the number of preschool slots available around the state.

But next year, Polis said he wants to also use his political capital to push lawmakers to increase the state’s reserve by $31 million.

He noted Colorado’s reserve is very low when compared to other states around the nation. A graph he provided showed only 10 other states in the country with lower reserves.

Polis’ budget proposal includes $550 million for transportation, which is a $25 million increase over the current transportation budget. But he cautioned the additional funding would go toward a backlog of maintenance projects, not new road work.

There’s also an additional $10 million for state parks, with about $3 million going toward the creation of the new Fishers Peak State Park near Trinidad.

Read Polis’ full budget package here.

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