Colorado governor’s $34.5B budget emphasizes education

State
FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis responds to a question about a shooting at a charter school during a news conference in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

FILE – In this May 8, 2019, file photo, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis responds to a question about a shooting at a charter school during a news conference in Highlands Ranch, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. Jared Polis proposed a $34.5 billion state budget Wednesday for the next fiscal year, once again emphasizing early and higher education investments and seeking to increase rainy-day reserves.

Polis presented his request to the Joint Budget Committee, which will craft a balanced budget during the 2020 legislative session.

Polis noted that the requested funding increase of 2.9% kept with the inflation rate, Colorado Politics reported.

“There’s not a lot of free money” available, he said.

Polis wants to increase general fund reserve to 7.5% of state obligations from the current 7.25% to help the state weather a possible economic downturn.

The Democratic governor previously instituted full-day, state-funded kindergarten, and increased pre-school enrollment. He wants to boost state-funded preschool enrollment by 6,000 children next year.

Polis requested $52 million to help reduce unfunded state obligations to K-12 schools to about $520 million; $10 million for capital improvements to public colleges and universities; and $14 million to help college students make payments on their loans during the first two years after graduation.

Tuition at public colleges and universities would rise by 3% under his plan.

Polis wants $550 million for transportation. He also has outlined a plan to give state workers two months of paid family leave.

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