As legislators, staff and advocates reconvene in the second 74th General Assembly of the Colorado Legislature January 10th - we know there are issues on the horizon that didn't get dealt with last year. Voces Unidas will be tracking, supporting and leading on multiple pieces of legislation in 2024. Some things to expect from our lawmakers this year that were not addressed in 2023:
Housing - Multiple pieces of housing legislation are in development. We can expect everything from addressing housing affordability, eviction protection, needs assessments for local ordinances, to mobile home park tenant rights. Last year Gov. Jared Polis pushed a complex land use bill that would have imposed a statewide guideline to increase density and address public transit systems and many initiatives in that land use bill last year are coming back in 2024. In our most recent Colorado Latino Policy Agenda 'addressing the rising cost of living' was the top policy issue Latinos want the Governor and State Legislature to address. In addition, they made it clear they do not feel policymakers have been aggressive enough in addressing the growing housing challenges. Furthermore, 85% of Latino registered voters agree that “cities and towns should be required to build more affordable housing near jobs, schools, and public services.”
Property Taxes -In the last couple days of the 2023 legislative session the Governor and Democrats passed a tax-relief plan that went to voters in November as proposition HH on the ballot - and failed. Gov. Polis convened a special session in November 2023 where lawmakers passed legislation to reduce the increases to 2024 property tax bills, and created a task force that will recommend long-term solutions to the legislature in March 2023 for solutions in 2025 and beyond. This means there will be a couple months left for legislators to scramble and develop a tax solution for 2025.
Education Funding - This year lawmakers are eliminating the use of the Budget Stabilization Factor, which is a legal mechanism that allows the legislature to reduce school funding - in order to balance the state budget. There is also pressure on the Governor and legislators to determine how to subsidize the growing universal preschool program and figure out adequate funding for state colleges and universities. In the 2023 Colorado Latino Policy agenda, education policy was among the top priorities for Latinos at the state level, with 77% expressing concern about the quality of education in the state, and 73% reporting concerns that there is “little effort by school leaders to involve parents in their children’s education.”
The Budget - Every year the legislature hears an economic forecast early on in session and then later passes the "long bill" including the budget for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. The billions in federal relief money that were available during the pandemic have been used and now Colorado will have to face ever growing needs with a limited budget.
Social Services & Health Care - The state does not provide adequate reimbursements to medical professionals that accept Medicaid, or care for the disabled. While funds need to be increased to meet the ever growing needs of the state's Medicaid populations, (including mental and behavioral supports) this leaves less money for any new legislative programs.
Stay tuned for Voces Unidas 2024 policy priorities that are informed by our 2023 Colorado Latino Policy Agenda.