I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy holiday season!
With Joint Budget Committee meetings in full swing, the past month and a half was very busy. Yesterday, economists from the Governor’s office and Legislative Council staff presented their quarterly revenue forecast to the committee. During their presentation, they informed us that the state could see a revenue boost in the range of $200 to $340 million as a result of Colorado’s economic performance and the federal tax revisions passed by Congress this week.
With no shortage of unmet needs in Colorado, this increase in revenue has the potential to help us address chronically low funding for our schools, the increasing costs for a higher education degree, significant infrastructure investment needs, declining severance tax revenues, and an emergency funding gap for our child health insurance program due to inaction by Congress. As we work towards crafting the 2018-19 state budget over the next four months, where this revenue is allocated will be the topic of much discussion at the Legislature.
Hamner Legislative Update
With the 2018 Legislative Session only three weeks away, my legislative agenda is beginning to take shape. Below are a few of the bills that I will be working on during the 2018 session.
Single Geographic Rating Area for Health Insurance Plans:
- Under this bill, health insurers would be prohibited from considering the geographic location of a policy holder when establishing rates in Colorado. It is estimated that this change could lower premium rates on the Western Slope by up to 22%.
Rural Teacher Fellowship Program:
- This bill would establish a fellowship program that would pair fourth-year education students enrolled at institutions of higher education with rural school districts, allowing them to teach at the district for a full year and onward
Expansion of the READ Act:
- This bill would increase funding to the early literacy grant program and expand services to children with moderate reading deficiencies.
Expansion of Colorado’s Newborn Screening Program:
- This would modernize and update Colorado’s newborn screening program using a model based on federally recommended standards by providing more accurate, timely and comprehensive newborn screening. This screening process helps doctors identify potential diseases at birth.
We will be scheduling town halls between January and May throughout House District 61.
Have a wonderful holiday!