Gov. Jared Polis proposes $40 billion for next Colorado state budget

By: - November 1, 2021 5:15 pm

Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news briefing about a proposed 2022-2023 Colorado state budget on Nov. 1, 2021. (Governor Jared Polis Facebook)

Gov. Jared Polis laid out plans for a $40 billion budget in the 2022-2023 fiscal year that includes spending for things like homelessness prevention, public safety and improved air quality. 

“These are proposals Coloradans will see and feel in their everyday lives,” Polis said during a Nov. 1 briefing to announce the budget proposal. “It meets Coloradans where they’re at. It’s our response to the call of the moment to help improve the quality of life in Colorado.”


Some of the governor’s proposals rely on leveraging money from the American Rescue Plan Act, a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to make transformational investments,” he said. Colorado will receive about $3.8 billion in that stimulus money for pandemic-related expenses.

The proposed budget includes a $113 million “public safety package” that Polis hopes will reduce crime and recidivism and increase investments on behavioral health care capacity. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need to help keep Coloradans safe and secure in their communities. That’s why we’re introducing a strong public safety component of our budget,” Polis said. 

Polis wants $200 million in new state funding to reduce homelessness. Half of that would be for competitive grants that require matching funds to invest in responses like transitional housing and emergency shelters. About $95 million would go to two residential recovery campuses and $5 million would go to plan intervention strategies.

Homelessness has risen to the level of state priority ... I think it's become an issue that affects all of us as Coloradans and it's appropriate that there is a state response in reducing homelessness in partnership with our cities.

– Gov. Jared Polis

“Homelessness has risen to the level of state priority … I think it’s become an issue that affects all of us as Coloradans and it’s appropriate that there is a state response in reducing homelessness in partnership with our cities,” he said.

As far as education, Polis wants to increase per-pupil spending in public schools by $526, bringing that spending to a record high of approximately $9,500 per student. He also proposes pre-paying $300 million to the state’s education fund in order to maintain that level of investment. 

Additionally, the budget proposes one-time spending of $424 million on initiatives for the state’s “aggressive pursuit of both climate and air quality improvements.” That includes money to electrify the state’s school bus fleet, decarbonize the industrial and aviation sectors and increase resources to the Air Pollution Control Division.

“It is past time to take action on air quality and climate,” he said. “We simply cannot afford to wait and we need to act with the fierce urgency of the moment.”

Other notable proposals tucked into the budget proposal include $600 million to help employers cover unemployment insurance and $51 million to help businesses find employees through short-term credential programs and apprenticeships. There is also $175 million for key priorities in increasing affordable housing statewide, including incentives for prefabricated housing.

Additionally, the governor wants about an 8% increase in General Fund operating expenses.

Polis will formally present his ideas to the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee on Nov. 15. State lawmakers, who reconvene in January, will ultimately draft and pass the state’s budget.


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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. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.