Valdez shares capitol update


VALLEY – Back in the San Luis Valley to attend the Alamosa County Democrat Assembly today, State Representative Donald Valdez said he was pleased with provisions in the state budget that the House of Representatives passed 42-22 this week.

“This is the strongest investment in years for education, school safety, transportation, PERA, affordable housing, healthcare, mental and behavioral health, wildfire preparedness, veterans with PTSD, Safe2Tell, and youth advisory council,” Valdez said.

The state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1, approved in HB18-1322,  allocates an additional:

· $606 million for education, including $266 million to avoid growing the so-called “budget stabilization factor,” the state’s arrears to its public school districts; $150 million more to reduce the “budget stabilization factor,” the biggest buy-down since what used to be called the “negative factor” was created in 2009; $114 million for our public colleges and universities; $30 million expressly for rural school districts; $36 million for school safety; and $10 million to address the teacher shortage.

· $225 million to help cover the cost of efforts to ensure the long-term stability of PERA, the retirement fund for teachers and other public-sector employees

· $137 million for capital development on state-owned buildings and property

· $12 million for the Child Care Assistance Program, to reduce waiting lists and expand access to child care for Colorado families

· $11 million for solutions coming out of the legislative working group on our state prison system

· $6 million for legislation to address the opioid addiction epidemic in Colorado

· $1 million to restore full funding to the Colorado Civil Rights Division

Moving along with the “long bill” is HB18-1340, which appropriates $495 million to fix Colorado’s crumbling, overburdened transportation systems, including dedicated money for county and municipal governments to address their own local issues.

The budget package now moves to the state senate.

In addition to working on the budget legislation, Valdez said he is involved with legislation addressing the opioid epidemic, “trying to find some solutions. It’s not an easy task trying to find answers.”

He said this problem is affecting everyone. “It’s hurting our families, our friends.”