2016 Legislative Session

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The 2016 Legislative Session has officially drawn to a close. Rep. Young’s 2016 legislative package consisted of 33 bills, 25 of which passed both the House and the Senate and have been signed or are about to be signed by the Governor.  As one of six members of the Joint Budget Committee, passage of the Long Bill (the State’s budget—HB16-1405—as described below) was a significant achievement.  Several other bills in Rep. Young’s legislative package are also worthy of note.

HB16-1405 (The 2016-’17  Colorado State Budget)

In this very tight budget year, the legislature passed a budget that avoided the major cuts originally proposed after the November forecast.  The initial ’16-‘17 budget submitted by the Governor at the beginning of November proposed $373M in cuts.  These cuts included a $50M cut to K-12 schools, a $20M cut to higher education, a $100M cut to critical care hospitals (with a matching $100M loss of federal funds), a $39M cut to medical providers (with $105M loss of federal funds), a 1% cut all other contract providers, and a 1% salary cut for state employees.  We also faced $160M loss of statutory budget reserves in the ’15-’16 budget.

What this year’s budget accomplished:

  • Increased per-pupil average spending for K-12 schools by $112 to $7,425
  • Averted a possible $20 million cut to higher education
  • Set transfers to the state’s highway fund at $150 million
  • Maintained the statutory 6.5 percent budget reserve
  • Averted cuts to payment rates for medical providers

But Colorado has strict budgetary constraints, so there were some dark spots:

  • Flat funding for higher education, which likely means tuition will rise
  • Cut funding for hospitals – $73 million for the hospital provider fee, which turns in to a much bigger loss because of lost matching federal funds
  • Kept the negative factor flat when we should be decreasing it and supporting our K-12 schools
  • Cut transportation funding for next year by $50 million

There was hope to free up revenue under the TABOR cap, allowing Colorado to make the investments in schools, roads, and other high priorities that are necessary to ensure our continued prosperity and global competitiveness. Legislation to turn the hospital provider fee into an enterprise passed the House with bipartisan support but was killed in the Senate Finance Committee.

  • Turning the hospital provider fee into an enterprise would have given our budget the flexibility to address the shortcomings listed above
  • Immediately upon passage, HB16-1420 and HB16-1450 would have:
    • Restored $143 million in hospital support
    • Freed up tens of millions of dollars in the 2016-17 fiscal year for investment in the state’s priorities, especially schools and roads
    • Allocated $40 million to increase funding for K-12 by reducing the negative factor
    • Restored $16.2 million to the FY 2015-16 Severance Tax transfer (additional funding for local governments)
    • Freed up as much as $700 million for new transportation projects
      through 2020
    • Increased funding by $49.5 million for higher education
    • Averted a host of drastic cuts in the 2017-18 fiscal year, including a zero general fund budget for state transportation projects
  • Recognizing its ability to allow sufficient investments in schools, roads and other public services to support Colorado’s continued prosperity and global competitiveness, more than 100 business and civic groups and every major editorial page in the state supported the hospital provider fee package.

HB16-1003 Middle Class College Savings Act – Reps. Young & Pettersen

This bill incentivizes middle class families to invest in college savings accounts by giving them tax deductions on their investments. Ultimately this will create more opportunities for Colorado students to attend institutions of higher education and will help to better prepare Colorado students to be competitive in an ever-changing job market by making college more affordable.

HB16-1016 Using Multiple Measures of Student Academic Growth- Rep. Young

HB 1016 creates a grant program to assist school districts and educators in creating and applying new and more accurate methods to measure the academic development of a student. This will help provide a clearer picture of how students are learning and also provide some relief from the reliance on standardized assessments.

HB16-1226 Agricultural Innovation Grants- Reps. Young & Arndt

Colorado, particularly the Front Range, has been depicted as the “silicon valley” of agricultural innovation. HB 1226 further facilitates this growth by creating a grant program through the Department of Agriculture which can assist Colorado small ag businesses in developing or researching their products. Through this bill, we can also make sure that rural Colorado feels the benefits from this expansion, as it would help encourage and retain growth and project development in our agricultural communities.

HB16-1101 Medical Decisions for Unrepresented Patients- Rep. Young

The aim of this bill is to establish a framework for patients whose decision-making ability is incapacitated, and who are unable to be represented by any proxy or guardian, to get more immediate medical treatment. Currently, dire emergency circumstances have to prevail in order for doctors to treat unrepresented, incapacitated patients. HB 1101 would allow for doctors, upon additional consultation and assessment, to begin medical decision-making earlier to prevent further degradation of a patient’s condition.

SB16-079 Aligning Student Academic Plans with Career Pathways- Rep. Young 

SB 079 Directs the Department of Education to collaborate with the community college system to more effectively align postsecondary and workforce readiness initiatives, so that students graduate with the tools they need to be successful in their future career and academic goals.

Medicaid reform package- Rep. Young

There is much concern about the impact of Medicaid on our state’s budget.  In reality, the biggest cost drivers in Medicaid are long-term services and supports provided to seniors and people with disabilities.  The citizens in this category comprise only 12% of the Medicaid population, but account for 42% of the Medicaid spending.  The reform package that Rep. Young ran was designed to help these citizens get better outcomes and, at the same time, contain Medicaid costs.  Bills in the package include HB16-1101, HB16-1195, HB16-1254, HB16-1321, HB16-1362, HB16-1380, HB16-1394, HB16-1398, HB16-1407, SB16-038, SB16-093, SB16-178, SB16-182, SB16-192 and SB16-196.

Other Joint Budget Committee Bills & Technical Statutory Updates

HB16-1161, HB16-1350, HB16-1406, HB16-1410, SB15-035 SB16-090SB16-095 , SB15-165SB16-201, SB16-202, SB16-215 are all bills that I sponsored that the we as the Joint Budget Committee and/or the legislature have identified as necessary technical changes to statutes in order to promote further fiscal responsibility and transparency. Click on any of them to learn more about what they do or what their status is in the legislative process.

You can learn more about my bills, or any bill in the legislature, here.