DALLAS – Colorado’s $20.5 billion budget signed into law this week by Gov. John Hickenlooper provides $188 million for capital construction that is expected to be funded by bonds.
The capital projects budget is about 83% higher than the current $102.5 million signed by Hickenlooper May 7, 2012.
“This amount includes $44.9 million to perform nearly 70 discrete controlled maintenance projects and an additional $93.7 million for new construction and renovation projects involving state-owned buildings,” Hickenlooper said in a statement at the signing. “Not only will these planned expenditures provide some much needed enhancements to our aging building infrastructure, they will also directly inject funds into Colorado’s construction economy.”
“After enduring a significant economic downturn, Colorado’s economy is outperforming the nation’s,” Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “Though many programs are seeing increases, we have also eliminated long-term liabilities, grown our reserve to 5% and ensured some of our new spending is on one-time items.”
Projects covered by the budget include maintenance and expansion of all the state’s universities, repairs to the state prison system and various high-tech developments.
With the budget in place, the Colorado General Assembly looked toward a new revenue stream from the legalization of marijuana, approved by voters in 2012.
The state House gave initial approval to a bill that proposes a 15% excise tax and an initial 10% special sales tax on recreational marijuana. Minority Republicans, holding true to their anti-tax views, objected on the grounds that the taxes would be too high.
Voters would have the last word on any new tax rates, but a bill must first receive a final vote in the House and a full debate in the state Senate before it becomes a ballot question.
Majority Democrats say that voters would approve the taxes, citing a poll that suggests wide support for a 10% sales tax on marijuana.