The 2012-13 Budget: Another Mile Marker in Our Effort to Build a Better Colorado
A Message from Reps. Cheri Gerou and Jon Becker
The state budget we passed this year—or the “Long Bill”—is a landmark achievement House Republicans made this past legislative session. With a long list of House Republican priorities secured in it, the 2012-13 budget is a budget every Coloradan should be proud of.
House Republicans successfully secured a budget that fights for Colorado’s seniors, invests in our students and saves for our future.
Just under one year ago, Speaker of the House Frank McNulty announced that “the days of balancing the budget on the backs of seniors are over.” Our work on the Long Bill achieves this and much, much more.
Seniors living on fixed incomes are among many of the Coloradans who have been hit hardest by this recession. Colorado’s 2012-13 budget defends our seniors by restoring the senior homestead property tax exemption. This voter approved measure was suspended during lean economic times under the Democrat controlled legislature. With the passing of the Long Bill this year, however, America’s Greatest Generation will soon have more money in their pockets to spend on daily expenses, like food and medicine.
In addition to restoring this property tax break for seniors, House Republicans successfully fought to allocate monies to increase the standard allowance under the state’s old age pension program to account for inflation and fund a dental care program for needy seniors. House Republicans stood their ground to ensure the needs of seniors weren’t forgotten during the budget process. We also fought just as hard to ensure the state maintains its commitment to providing a quality education to students across Colorado.
House Republicans know and understand that an investment in our students is an investment in our future prosperity. Our budget increases funding for K-12 and higher education by $57 million, exceeding the amount Governor Hickenlooper requested. The additional funding we fought to secure for education means students won’t see any reductions to per-pupil spending. Parents and educators will also be glad to see that our budget maintains $100 million balance in the State Education Fund—all this despite attempts from some Democrat lawmakers to funnel money away from education and into more government bureaucracy.
For the second year in a row, the state House of Representatives passed a budget that is honest and responsible. It’s a budget with enough flexibility to allocate funding for programs long ignored, while remaining mindful of the fiscal realities that confront our state and our commitment to effective, limited government
House Republicans ended the diversion of Amendment 35 dollars to help balance the books. This achievement fulfills a pledge Speaker McNulty made last summer to once again direct the revenue from this constitutional measure back to funding cancer research, treatment and prevention.
Over 6,000 Coloradans will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone. Our leadership and our efforts to restore this vital source of funding for free and low-cost mammograms means women across the state will once again have access to the support and resources they need to help them fight and defeat their illness.
Another valuable source of funding House Republicans successfully protected under the new budget is revenue from severance tax dollars, which can now go back to funding vital water and infrastructure projects around the state.
The bipartisan budget we passed this year spends within our means and works to ensure Colorado remains on the path to economic recovery. House Republicans are working hard to build a better Colorado and clear the way for job creation and economic growth. The 2012-13 budget is but one more mile marker in our efforts to build a better Colorado.
Rep. Cheri Gerou, chair of the Join Budget Committee
Rep. Jon Becker, JBC member
Rep. Ray Scott’s bill to revamp the office of the public trustee was signed into law on May 21. House Bill 1329 will enhance counties’ control over their public trustee and give them more oversight over taxpayer dollars. Read more about the measure here.
Rep. Laura Bradford’s House Bill 1045, to expand and extend a tax exemption on the sale of beetle-kill wood products was signed by the governor on May 21. Read more about the measure to protect our water supply and forests by clicking here.
The governor signed House Bill 1324, sponsored by Rep. Tom Massey and Rep. Ray Scott , into law on May 21. The measure changes the admission standards for Colorado Mesa University was Read more here.
Rep. Cindy Acree’s House Bill 1326 was signed into law on May 22. The bill will help Colorado’s seniors most in need by authorizing an increase for the old age pension program and expanding dental assistance for qualifying seniors. For more information, click here.
Rep. Jon Becker‘s bill to reorganize the Governor’s Energy Office was signed into law on May 24. House Bill 1315 will reorganize the Governor’s Energy Office to push for an all-of-the-above energy strategy and create a balanced energy portfolio for Colorado’s energy future. You can learn more about the measure by clicking here.
Rep. Glenn Vaad‘s bill to protect local governments against unfunded mandates was signed into law last week. Under Senate Bill 026, agencies are prohibited from issuing mandates on a local government unless certain provisions are met. Read more about this measure here.
Rep. Don Coram‘s job saving bill, House Bill 1327, was signed into law last week. The measure resurrects an effort killed by Senate Democrats to remove the surety bond requirement for all tow carriers in Colorado. Read more about this valuable measure for rural Colorado here.
Rep. Bob Garner‘s bill to protect women and children from sex offenders was signed into law last week. House Bill 1346 creates a mechanism for sex offenders who do not have a fixed residence to register with local law enforcement every one or three months, depending on the offender’s registration status. Click here to learn more.
Rep. Jon Becker‘s bill to continue funding for agricultural energy projects was signed by the governor last week. Read more about House Bill 1334 by clicking here.
Last week, the governor signed Rep. Mark Barker‘s bill to fight organized retail crime into law. House Bill 1304 helps fight against a new form of criminal activity that costs Colorado retailers hundreds of millions of dollars in stolen goods every year by strengthening state criminal laws. Read more about this important measure for businesses and consumers here.
House Bill 1286, sponsored by Rep. Cindy Acree, was signed by the governor last week. The new law helps to reduce red tape for hospitals and save them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Learn more about Acree’s measure here.
Rep. Ken Summer‘s Senate Bill 20, was signed into law by the governor last week. The bill creates immunity for persons who report drug or alcohol overdoses to save lives across Colorado. Read more about this vital measure here.
Helping Victims of the
Lower North Fork Fire
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Reps. Cheri Gerou and Bob Gardner ’s House Bill 1352 and House Bill 1361 into law today. The measures are part of a bipartisan agreement that will allow victims of the state-caused Lower North Fork Fire to seek compensation.
Reps. Bob Gardner and Cheri Gerou introduced and passed House Bill 1352 through the House with bipartisan support in order to create the Lower North Fork Fire Commission. Gardner and Gerou sponsored House Bill 1361 to create a mechanism for victims to seek compensation from the state.
“House Bill 1352 ensures victims of this tragedy have a voice in the review of the fire and its aftermath,” said Gerou, a Republican from Evergreen who represents the Lower North Fork community. “House Bill 1361 gives them a path to justice.”
The Lower North Fork fire began after state officials left a prescribed burn unattended on a dry day in late March with 70 mile per hour winds forecasted. The Lower North Fork region received no precipitation in March and a red flag fire warning was predicted the day after the burn was left unattended.
Twenty-three homes were destroyed by the Lower North Fork fire and three people died. Of the 23 destroyed homes, only seven households received evacuation warnings.
“I lost my wife, my home and nearly everything we had worked our entire lives for in the fire—the devastation is hard to comprehend,” said Scott Appel, a victim of the Lower North Fork wildfire whose wife, Ann, died in the fire. “Acknowledging responsibility for this tragedy is the right thing for the state of Colorado to do. My neighbors and I are really hoping for fair and quick process for restitution so can start to put our lives back together.”
Without Gerou and Gardner’s measures, victims of the wildfire would have been left to split a mere $600,000 in compensation for an event that caused millions of dollars in damages and emotional harm. HB 1361 amends the Governmental Immunity Act to include prescribed burns created by the state to the list of governmental waivers. The measure does not change the $150,000 per person and the $600,000 per event caps under current law. It does, however, allow the Colorado State Claims Board to recommend to the General Assembly to offer payments in excess of those caps.
“A series of mishandlings by the state left people homeless and grieving for their loved ones,” said Gardner, a Republican from Colorado Springs who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. “I’m thankful we were able work for a solution and provide those victims with a form of redress.”
House Bill 1361 only applies to the state government, not cities, counties, school districts, special districts, or other governmental entities.
The Capitol in Pictures
Local elementary school students stand behind Gov. John Hickenlooper as he signs Rep. Tom Massey's Colorado Early Literacy Act in the West Foyer of the Capitol, to help ensure every child can read before graduating the third grade.
Victims of the Lower North Fork Fire gathered at the state Capitol during the 2012 legislative session for their first opportunity to talk to lawmakers about the loss the state's mishandling of the prescribed burn caused them.
Junior art students at Metro State College put many of their works on loan for lawmakers to display in their offices. In this photo, Evan Sanks poses with a subjective portrait he drew that hangs outside Rep. B.J. Nikkel's office. You can see all the art work on display at the Capitol any day of the week during normal visiting hours.
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