Gov. John Hickenlooper today signed House Bill 12-1335 (the "FY 2012-13 Long Bill") and praised the General Assembly for finding common ground that addresses the most vital issues facing Colorado.
The Long Bill passed through the Colorado Senate and Colorado House of Representatives this year with 86 yes votes and 8 no votes. That's one more yes vote than last year and the fewest number of no votes since 1995.
"The overwhelming legislative approval of the budget shows that Colorado is a place where people get work done, and they get it done collaboratively and pragmatically," Hickenlooper said.
The $7.7 billion General Fund budget for FY 2012-13 represents a 6.4 increase over this year's spending. But Colorado's budget continues to face significant challenges. In spite of inflation and population growth, the General Fund available for expenditure in FY 2012-13 remains essentially flat when compared with FY 2007-08.
The next fiscal year's budget include these particularly noteworthy items:
* Protecting Colorado's most vulnerable citizens -- This budget includes an increase of $4.9 million in total funds to provide essential services for an additional 173 people with developmental disabilities. Additionally, the State's Mental Health Institutes received new funding necessary to ensure the safe and effective treatment of patients. And, with growing revenues, this budget fully restores the Senior Homestead Exemption.
* Economic Development -- With an anticipated allocation of $5 million for employment incentives, the Office of Economic Development and International Trade expects it will attract new businesses to Colorado, potentially adding thousands of jobs in the upcoming fiscal year. The budget package also includes an anticipated $15 million in total funds, highlighted by a $4 million General Fund increase, to ensure continued investment in promoting Colorado's Tourism and Creative industries.
* Educating Colorado's children -- General Fund revenue growth has allowed the State, for the first time since FY 2008-09, to maintain per pupil funding in K-12 schools even with the prior year. Moreover, the Department of Education will receive an additional $8.7 million in total funds to support the ongoing Educator Effectiveness operations, begun by S.B. 10-191. This budget also minimizes anticipated reductions to the State's institutions of higher education.
* Modernizing government -- With $8.6 million earmarked to modernize the Colorado Financial Reporting System (COFRS), $1.9 million for data center consolidation, and $22.2 million to upgrade and modernize the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS), this budget package presents an opportunity to stabilize and modernize several of the State's most critical IT systems.
* Planning for future budgets -- It is anticipated that this budget package will result in the transfer of at least $59 million from the General Fund to the State Education Fund to help prepare for K-12 growth in the FY 2013-14 budget. In this budget, we also maintain our commitment to a 4 percent reserve in the General Fund.