© 2023
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Polis Just Approved Funding For An $800 Million Economic Stimulus Package. Here’s What’s In It

Gov. Jared Polis delivers his state of the state address in front of the House of Representatives at the Colorado state Capitol building on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
AAron Ontiveroz
Denver Post Pool Photo
Gov. Jared Polis delivers his state of the state address in front of the House of Representatives at the Colorado state Capitol building on Wednesday, Feb. 17.

Gov. Jared Polis signed the state budget on Monday, an act he says will boost reserves to their highest recorded level in state history while also delivering an $800 million stimulus package to help Coloradans recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony was much more upbeat than the one Polis presided over last year, when lawmakers were forced to slash billions because of the virus.

Lawmakers are marketing the stimulus package as the “Colorado Comeback.” Republicans and Democrats gathered at the governor’s mansion in February to announce it.

Polis originally asked lawmakers for $1.3 billion in stimulus spending, vowing that the amount could create 15,000 new jobs in the private sector. But the legislature landed on a more conservative number — $800 million.

The broad collection of legislation is made up of everything from small business support to funding for new infrastructure projects. It does not include direct cash payments to Coloradans.

Gov. Polis has already signed several pieces into law. Other bills have yet to get lawmakers’ approval, or even be introduced.

KUNC has assembled a list of legislation in the package. Bills that have already passed are noted.

Last updated on May 17, 2021. Entries marked with “*” indicate legislation that has not been officially introduced.

Small business aid: Up to $131.6 million

HB21-1265 ($45 million) extends a sales tax break to small restaurants through summer 2021.

HB21-1263 ($10 million) creates a meetings and events incentive program in the Colorado Tourism Office. The program would issue rebates and direct support to individuals hosting large gatherings.

SB21-042 ($25 million) bumps the amount of general fund revenue dispersed to the state’s executive branch. The extra money will go towards business grant programs that support job growth. Gov. Polis signed this bill in March.

HB21-1288 ($30 million) creates a Colorado Startup Loan program within the state’s economic development office. The program will lend money to historically underserved entrepreneurs.

SB21-241 ($1.6 million) sets up a new growth program in the state’s economic development office for businesses with fewer than 20 employees.

*Energize Colorado Gap Fund: ($10-15 million) Provides financial support in the form of one-time grants to small businesses across the state. To qualify, businesses must have less than 25 employees. The fund prioritizes businesses in rural areas, businesses that didn’t qualify for the federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program, women, minority and veteran-owned businesses and small restaurants.

*Relief for arts and culture organizations: ($3-5 million) Provide additional support to the arts & culture organizations central to communities across Colorado to help bridge their recovery while the state works to vaccinate the broader population.

Infrastructure projects: Up to $428 million

SB21-110 ($30 million) to support local infrastructure projects that provide open spaces for mobility, community activities and economic development in city centers across the state. Gov. Polis signed this bill in March.

SB21-252 ($65 million) would create a new grant program in the state’s economic development office. The program would issue grants in support of housing and infrastructure development in city centers across the state.

SB21-112 ($20 million) funds construction projects at 12 state parks, including a faster buildout of Fishers Peak State Park. Gov. Polis signed this bill in March.

HB21-1260 ($20 million) transfers $20 million from the state’s general fund for projects identified in the state’s Water Plan.

SB21-230 ($40 million) for the Colorado Energy Office, which finances clean energy projects across the state. Funds will also go to programs that support clean energy retrofits, new construction and installation of EV charging stations at facilities across the state.

HB21-1253 ($5 million) puts money toward local renewable energy projects.

SB21-231 ($3 million) supports a state grant program that develops energy efficiency services for low-income residents.

*Broadband Investments: ($50-75 million) Funding for broadband infrastructure in response to the social and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

*Shovel Ready Infrastructure Projects: ($170 million) Support infrastructure improvements in tourism corridors and scenic byways, wildlife migration corridor enhancements, Denver Metro West 1-70 bridges, and improvements to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnels. This legislation has not been introduced. Polis and lawmakers introduced a separate, larger transportation funding bill on May 4.

Housing, mental health and education: Up to $79 million

HB21-1258 ($9 million) would pay for free telehealth appointments for Colorado teens through the Office of Behavioral Health.

SB21-239 ($2 million) for a state-run hotline to connect unemployed individuals with behavioral health services.

SB21-236 ($10 million) funds programs aiming to improve access to childcare for workers and recruitment for workers to staff childcare facilities.

HB21-12-1271 ($13 million) funds programs that incentivize local governments to adopt affordable housing policies and support development.

SB21-202 ($10 million) allocates money for public school air quality improvement projects.

*School tutoring/summer school: ($5-10 million) funds extended learning opportunities, such as tutoring assistance, for the most vulnerable K-12 students to help close educational gaps exacerbated by the pandemic.

*Program to purchase, or rent rooms in, hotels for the homeless: ($10-15 million) would provide funds to local governments to rent hotel rooms, purchase, or lease-to-purchase hotels and motels for people experiencing homelessness.

Rural communities: Up to $113.5 million

SB21-258 ($28 million) in support of wildfire recovery and risk mitigation grants.

SB21-240 ($15 million) in grants to support projects protecting Colorado watersheds from wildfire.

SB21-204 ($5 million) toward a state grant program that helps rural communities diversity their local economies.

SB21-229 ($3 million) will fund a program that helps communities impacted by the decline of the coal industry. The grants help attract new businesses to economically distressed communities.

HB21-1262 ($7 million) to support the annual Colorado State Fair and National Western Stock Show.

SB21-248 ($30 million) creates a new low-interest loan program for beginning farmers and ranchers.

SB21-235 ($5 million) in grants for agricultural producers looking to reduce their energy consumption.

SB21-234 ($3 million) creates a drought resiliency fund in the state’s agriculture department.

SB21-203 ($2.5 million) will provide extra funding for a program in the state Department of Agriculture that helps food producers increase international sales.

*Just transition/rural economic diversification: ($10-15 million) in funding to partner with local communities to create new job opportunities and assist in the transition away from coal.

Workforce training and education: Up to $51.4 million

HB21-1104 ($3.4 million) extends the renewal period for teacher licensure from 5 to 7 years.

HB21-1264 ($25 million) funds two-year grants to local workforce boards. The grants would pay for worker training in growing employment sectors as defined in the 2020 Talent Pipeline report.

SB21-232 ($15 million) funds the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative’s Displaced Workers Grant program.

HB21-1149 ($5 million) directs the Colorado Workforce Development Council to design a new “career pathway” for the energy sector.

HB21-1270 ($3 million) invests money into Colorado’s SNAP Employment and Training program, which provides training and work-related education activities to SNAP recipients in the state.

I cover a wide range of issues within Colorado’s dynamic economy including energy, labor, housing, beer, marijuana, elections and other general assignment stories.
Scott Franz is an Investigative Reporter with KUNC.
Related Content