For just the second time, the Colorado General Assembly is giving the public the chance to comment on how the state should spend billions of dollars.
The Joint Budget Committee — a panel of six lawmakers that crafts the $32 billion spending bill — will take public testimony Monday at 1:30 p.m. in the Legislative Services Building across the street from the Capitol.
State Rep. Daneya Esgar, the committee’s chairwoman, said the question lawmakers want the public to answer is straightforward: “If they were given the ability to craft the budget for the entire state of Colorado, what would their priorities be?”
This story is part of The Colorado Sun’s Capitol Sunlight project to help explain the state’s political arena and improve understanding of how the system works.
The state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is the most important bill lawmakers consider each year — and the only one they must approve. But this year, the tension surrounding the bill is heightened as economic projections indicate lawmakers won’t have as much money to spend as in prior years.
Much of the budget is federal dollars, but lawmakers have discretion on how to spend the roughly $14 billion in what’s known as the General Fund.
In 2019, the budget committee — known as the JBC — opened testimony to the public for the first time in recent memory. But budget writers were frustrated when Gov. Jared Polis’ office used the opportunity to recruit allies to testify in support of the administration’s agenda.
The governor presented his budget proposal in November. And this time, Esgar hopes to see more members of the public attend the open hearing.
“I think one of the most important voices we have in this building is the voice of the public, so why wouldn’t we have the public come in and talk to us about their budget priorities?” said Esgar, a Pueblo Democrat.
Here’s some helpful links to know if you plan to speak in front of the budget committee.
A rundown on how the budget process works. (Note: This is from 2019, so the numbers are out-dated but the process is the same.)
A guide to lawmaking and how to lobby for your lawmakers. This includes tips about how to testify in front of a committee.
Each year the budget committee compiles a summary of how the state budget is spent. This is the “budget in brief” guide for the current 2019-20 fiscal year.
What you need to know about TABOR, Gallagher, Amendment 23 and the hidden forces that constrain spending in Colorado.
This reporting is made possible by our members. You can directly support independent watchdog journalism in Colorado for as little as $5 a month. Start here: coloradosun.com/join
The latest from The Sun
- Work to reduce wildfire risks in Colorado, other Western states has economic benefits, report says
- Hickenlooper has likely secured his spot on the U.S. Senate primary ballot. But will the Democratic base embrace him?
- Opinion: It’s time to ban wildlife killing contests in Colorado
- Opinion: Eliminate private prisons. Profit has no place in the criminal justice system.
- A Denver priest — his dad’s best friend — raped him. The state’s Catholic Church abuse report revealed the secret.