Colorado Democrats plan tax breaks despite shaky state budget (Denver Post)

January 8, 2013 – Just as Colorado’s state budget is finally showing signs of improvement, the first bill Senate Democrats will introduce when the legislative session opens Wednesday provides $120 million in tax breaks in the form of tax credits. Some 370,000 families would benefit, including workers caring for their parents, said the incoming Senate president, Democrat John Morse of Colorado Springs. The plan to give tax breaks comes at the same time Democrats admit an education proposal still in the works relies on a tax increase to provide more money for schools.

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Colorado plans Medicaid expansion, claims cost savings (Denver Post)

January 3, 2013 – Colorado plans to expand Medicaid coverage next year to cover more than 160,000 additional low-income adults, aided by cost-control savings of more than $280 million over the next 10 years, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Thursday. Through 2016, the federal government covers the entire cost of the expansion, which comes under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. By 2020, Colorado will be expected to pick up 10 percent of the cost. Steven Summer, president and chief executive of the Colorado Hospital Association, also praised the expansion, noting that expanding Medicaid reduces uncompensated care, which has decreased by $214 million since the implementation of a Medicaid provider fee in 2009 but still surpasses $1 billion annually.

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Two decades later, Colorado’s TABOR praised, blamed for limiting government (Denver Post)

December 23, 2012 – Twenty years after Coloradans approved the most restrictive tax and expenditure limitation in the country, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has reshaped state government and sparked debate on similar proposals across the country and now is under greater assault than ever before. At its inception, conservatives lauded TABOR for its promise to restrict the growth of government and to empower citizens. But its legacy has been one of near-constant controversy; it has never been completely replicated outside of Colorado; its defenders say TABOR foes have consistently tried to find work-arounds; and there have been a few supporters who have changed their minds about the constitutional amendment.

Colorado’s economic outlook brightens (Denver Post)

December 21, 2012 – Colorado’s tax receipts continue to be higher than expected, with improvements in the housing market and personal income, but uncertainty over “fiscal cliff” negotiations is preventing stronger growth, state economists said Thursday. Revenue is estimated to be $159.6 million higher for the current fiscal year ending in September than predicted three months ago, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s economists told lawmakers in a quarterly briefing on the state’s outlook. The additional money will carry over to next year and be invested in a savings account for schools. The governor’s economists and legislative staff, which delivered a similar forecast, told lawmakers that consumer spending continues despite the fiscal-cliff debate.

Colorado wins $43 million Medicaid bonus for its kids programs (Denver Post)

December 20, 2012 – Colorado won a $43 million bonus from federal Medicaid officials Wednesday as reward for enrolling more children in the insurance program, the largest of awards to 23 states. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced $306 million in bonuses for improving access for children, saying, “We are proud to reward states that are reducing enrollment barriers and connecting kids to coverage.” The bonuses are meant to help offset the added expenses states incur when they increase the number of children with state insurance. Medicaid costs are split evenly between federal and state governments.

New Colorado Medicaid program helps middle class with long-term issues (Denver Post)

December 16, 2012 – The state of Colorado agreed, expanding Medicaid in July to allow middle-class families of children with severe, ongoing disabilities to “buy in” to the insurance traditionally for the low-income. For a $90-a-month premium, (parents) now have covered the therapies, the pricey equipment and the specialized prescriptions that keep (their disabled children) on a path to improvement. The new benefit is being used by more than 160 children. It’s being paid for with funds from the hospital provider fee created in 2009 to expand Medicaid eligibility in Colorado, and federal matching money. The state says no Colorado general funds are used for the Children’s Buy-In.

Colorado roads to see another $300 million per year for 5 years (Denver Post)

December 14, 2012 – Colorado’s roads will see an additional $300 million in funding per year the next five years thanks to a new plan to free up more money sooner. Gov. John Hickenlooper and Don Hunt, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation unveiled the plan Friday, which is called the Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships, or RAMP, program. The agency in recent years has built up more than a $1 billion cash balance, saying uncertainty in federal funding meant the department had to have projects fully funded before beginning them.

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