DENVER — On Monday night, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced another executive order allocating $1.67 billion in CARES Act money.
The CARES Act was passed by Congress and provides emergency COVID-19 funds. Of Colorado's share:
- $510 million will go to the Colorado Department of Education for K-12 funding, but the spending must be on compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures.
- $450 million will be for the Colorado Department of Higher Education for spending that is also compliant with COVID-19 related public health measures.
- $275 million is for local governments that did not receive CARES Act funding directly.
- $70 million will go to the general fund, which lawmakers have discretion over.
>> Read the executive order here.
It's this type of executive order that precipitated a news conference by Colorado House Republicans on Monday morning.
"We need more accountability for elected and appointed leaders and their use and abuse of emergency powers," said Rep. Richard Champion, R-Columbine Valley. "We want reasonable limits on a governor's ability to shut down the economy and distribute hundreds of millions of dollars -- federal dollars -- and force us to change the way we live."
The legislature was originally supposed to return on Monday, but the Democratic leadership postponed that until May 26, the day after Memorial Day.
In the meantime, Polis continues to issue executive orders that the minority party wants input on.
"I think it's OK to make these quick and brief if you have to act quickly in an emergency, but after a certain amount of period of time, the elected officials should have to weigh in on those," said House Minority Leader Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock.
During the state of emergency, Neville has come out in support of business owners impacted by the public health orders. He defended Appliance Factory Mattress Kingdom in Denver when it was temporarily shut down for not following in-person business requirements.
Neville also showed up at the C&C Café in Castle Rock when it opened for dine-in service on Mother's Day, and then was shut down for violating the public health order.
"Today, we are saying we are not trying to be just contrarian, we're actually trying to be a part of the solution, said Neville. "It's more than just saying we don't like what the governor's done, there's a lot of things that I don't like what the governor's done, but there's a lot of policy solutions that I think we can work forward on in a bipartisan way."
"I don't think any of us are just saying these things to win over a vote or score political points," said Rep. Dave Williams, R-Colorado Springs. "I think there are some very good guidelines that are put in place. I think there are some very reasonable things that are being done, but there are also some unreasonable things that are happening."
House Republicans previewed legislation they want to see passed when the legislature starts again next week.
They want to keep the property tax exemption for seniors called the Senior Homestead Exemption.
They also want to give business owners a tax break on the personal property tax they pay for items like tables and chairs that have been stacked on one another for two months.
Another idea is to no charge a higher unemployment insurance fund premium to businesses, as will happen, once the unemployment fund goes into the negative next month. That fund, which had $1.1 billion in March, is estimated to be -$7 million next month, and perhaps $2.5 billion in the negative by June 2022.
Businesses will pay a higher premium and a surcharge to help replenish that fund.
Any bill that will cost the state more money is likely dead on arrival.
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