In the News...
Eco-devo money finally makes it into Colorado budget
The Denver Business Journal
April 18, 2012
By: Ed Sealover
It turns out the third time was the charm for efforts to add $5.7 million in economic-development incentives to the Colorado state budget on Wednesday.
Senate Democrats voted to include the money, as well as $300,000 in additional funding for the state’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) program, in the $19 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.
The House must agree with the changes, but a sponsor of Wednesday’s budget amendment said she’s been told by Joint Budget Committee (JBC) members that they can find a way to fund the request from Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office.
The successful inclusion of the funding came after the House rejected a similar move twice during its budget debate last week.
“This is the biggest amendment for jobs we could have,” said Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, who sponsored the amendment with Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge.
Hickenlooper announced when he introduced his budget proposal in November that he wanted to put an extra $6 million to economic-development incentives to help the state attract and retain jobs as the economic downturn was beginning to ease.
But JBC members, who write the budget, did not include the money originally because several said it did not rise to the same level of importance as restoring education funding cuts or increasing funding to tourism marketing.
Wednesday’s amendment would take $6 million that was scheduled to fund the development of new science and social studies assessment tests and transfer $5.7 million to the strategic fund of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade .
That fund, which already was set to get $1 million in funding next year, awards performance-based incentives to companies looking to expand in or relocate to Colorado.
Jahn noted that the fund has helped Arrow Electronics, Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System and TriZetto Group all decide to relocate their headquarters to Colorado in the past six months.
In addition, $300,000 would be split among the state’s 14 SBDCs, which give help and advice to start-up and growing businesses. Sen. Linda Newell, D-Littleton, argued that program has a proven track record for creating jobs.
But Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, argued that the development for the tests is an important step in Colorado’s educational reform. In addition to slowing the creation of science and social studies assessment tests, the transfer of funds also would delay the refreshing of assessment tests for special-education students, leaving the current tests out of date.
Jahn told senators, however, that one JBC member from each party has assured her that they could find the money elsewhere in the budget as well. And the amendment then passed in what appeared to be a largely party-line voice vote, with Democrats supporting it and Republicans opposing it.
The Senate is expected to give final approval to the budget bill, House Bill 1335, on Wednesday. It will then be up to JBC members to come back with a plan upon which both chambers agree – a plan that is very likely to include the $6 million in economic-development money