As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports:
Colorado state lawmakers are preparing for Gov. Jared Polis to call a special session focused on COVID-19 relief.
Top Democratic officials in both chambers of the statehouse say they and the Democratic governor’s office have been in talks for weeks on a possible special session, and that the failure of Congress to pass a new federal stimulus package has added urgency to those talks of late…
The governor’s office, asked about the possibility of a special session, released this statement from Polis and Democratic legislative leaders: “Legislative leaders and the Governor’s office have been having productive conversations on how we can step up to help provide additional relief to Colorado businesses and hardworking families during these challenging times.”
This morning, Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette relayed more details on the relief package state lawmakers will take up in the special session expected to be announced by Gov. Jared Polis at a press conference this afternoon:
Polis already has proposed a $1.3 billion stimulus package for the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. That package contains $220 million in “shovel-ready public works and infrastructure projects,” mostly for the Department of Transportation and state parks improvements. Another $160 million would go toward broadband investments, including telehealth and education; $78 million for wildfire response; $106 million for small businesses — mostly direct aid grants to restaurants and bars, hit hard by capacity restrictions imposed by the state and local governments; and $168 million for the $375 payment for low-and middle-income earners who lost jobs due to the pandemic.
Another $200 million is included for “one-time stimulus legislative priorities.”
The stimulus headed to lawmakers for the special session is a subset of that $1.3 billion package, comprised of an additional $220 million in spending.
The key points of this economic relief bill are reportedly targeted at small businesses most in need of immediate assistance, including bars and restaurants. Also prioritized for help: Renters, child care assistance, and internet access for students being forced into remote learning by the virus’s resurgence. The increased urgency of the need for relief, after months of failure in Washington to make good on promises that helped seal outgoing Sen. Cory Gardner’s doom in the recent election, appears to be greasing the bipartisan skids in the Colorado General Assembly for passage. After all, the principal complaint earlier in the year from (mostly) Republican legislators is they didn’t have a role in appropriating some of the CARES Act’s targeted funds. They can’t say that in a special session.
We’ll be pleased to see this go off uneventfully, a sign that the state’s Republican minority is growing out of the past two years of pointless partisan “war footing” obstruction–or failing that, at least minimally listening to their struggling constituents.