Family planning services among priorities Colorado budget writers hear from public

By: - February 2, 2023 3:36 pm
Colorado State Capitol

The Colorado State Capitol building is pictured March 22, 2022, in downtown Denver. (Faith Miller/Colorado Newsline)

As the Joint Budget Committee at the Colorado Legislature considers how it will craft the next fiscal year’s budget, reproductive rights advocates want additional funding for family planning services in the state.

The advocates want an additional $2 million for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Family Planning Program as the state faces increased strain on its reproductive health care system due to restrictions on abortion access in neighboring states.

“While bans at the state and federal level prevent public funds from being used to expand access to the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion care, we must invest state funds in expanding access to family planning services. This will relieve some of the strain on the providers who offer a full range of reproductive services, ensuring ongoing access to family planning for Coloradans across the state,” Hunter Nelson, a policy analyst at the Colorado Children’s Campaign, told the committee during public testimony on Wednesday.


The state’s Family Planning Program intends to reduce unwanted pregnancies in the state by supporting approximately 80 clinics that provide low-cost services including sex education, birth control and disease screening. It prioritizes low-income and uninsured people.

As pregnant people from out of state come to Colorado for abortion care, however, it reduces the capacity of the clinics that provide both family planning and abortion services.

“We are now in a time where across state lines, pregnant people may have drastically different human rights. Clinics in our state are inundated with volume, pushing appointment times out across the state. This impacts not only out-of-state individuals dealing with the stress of traveling for health care, but it also affects Coloradans seeking this care too,” Cobalt Abortion Fund Director Amanda Carlson said.

Advocates said that an additional $2 million would allow the program to serve about 5,000 more people. It currently serves about 53,000 people.

Lawmaker salaries

The committee heard public testimony on Wednesday on a variety of budget requests, including one to increase the salary of state legislators.

State representatives and senators make $41,449 annually. The median household income in Colorado is about $80,000.

“I personally believe the salary of our state legislators dictates the caliber of the state legislators we are able to have and their capacity,” Anette Bowser said in her public testimony. “We ask our state legislators to work for 120 days from January through May, but we know they actually work January through December.” She did not offer a specific proposal for how much to raise the salary.

Committee members also heard testimony about funding the partnership agreement between the state and Colorado WINS, a union that represents state employees. The agreement includes a 5% across-the-board raise for state employees and request for a new minimum wage of $15.75.

“By voting to fund the Colorado WINS partnership agreement and reinstituting step raises for public servants, this committee with demonstrate to its constituents that it is serious about them. Step raises will address key career and financial stressors for state employees, providing economic stability for us as we provide societal stability for our residents,” Department of Revenue tax policy advisor Lorenzo Harris said.

The committee also heard testimony regarding funding for a radon mitigation program, youth homelessness prevention and emergency rental assistance, among other topics.

The committee is at work crafting the budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Gov. Jared Polis has already submitted his budget proposal to the committee, which takes into account the threat of a looming recession and fewer dollars for new program spending. The Legislature typically begins considering the budget bill toward the end of March.


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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado.