In this Tuesday update on the state’s coronavirus response, Gov. Jared Polis said one of his main goals is to have a budget since the legislature is back to work. Lawmakers are close to the end of an annual session that had been delayed for two months due to the pandemic.
The state’s fiscal year is approaching on July 1. Polis noted the budget is especially important as the state enters its fire season and schools going back in session in August.
“It’s very hard on those thoughtful and caring legislators to have to vote for a package that because of the times, requires deep cuts to critical programs that they care deeply about,” he said.
According to Polis, legislators are focusing on economic recovery for this year’s budget. A loan relief fund and a small business grant fund will be included. This is particularly for small businesses that were not able to get federal aid. Paid sick leave is another priority so people are not incentivized to work if they are sick.
“Many of us who are salaried take that for granted that if you are sick and contagious, you don’t work,” he said. “Many hourly employees don’t have that luxury.”
Polis also mentioned the legislature will be using coronavirus relief funds for housing, food, and energy assistance so people can still pay their bills. Colorado, as of Tuesday, has 29,339 cases of COVID-19 and 1,292 deaths.
There’s been a downward trend of hospitalizations for 11 of the past 14 days and a downward trend of new cases for only seven days out of the past two weeks. This is partially why Polis said the state is watching Utah and Arizona. Both states have seen increases in their cases within the past week.
At this point, he said there are no plans for screening people coming from those states. But, he did say he is concerned for southwest Colorado. Polis praised Mesa County because that was one of the first areas allowed to begin opening up in the state.
“Especially those who cater to people from out of state, take all the precautions that we advise with their employees,” Polis said. “Paperless checkouts, wearing masks...those same kinds of precautions that we take to avoid infection from our fellow Coloradans.”