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COLORADO

Colorado

State Recovery Act Website: http://www.colorado.gov/recovery/

Colorado's state Recovery Act website scored 68 out of 100 possible points (ranking 2nd) on Good Jobs First's 51-state study of state stimulus websites entitled Show Us the Stimulus. The state leads in disclosure of its use of ARRA funds in many categories.  A key feature in its reporting is an interactive map that shows the location of individual projects, their costs, names of contractors awarded those projects, and jobs created by each project. Contractor information: here (click on individual project icons).

Colorado scored 68 points out of 100-ranking 3rd-on its disclosure of information specifically about highway projects funded by the Recovery Act.  The state's Recovery Act website discloses project details, contract awards and job creation data for highway projects. The Colorado Department of Transportation also discloses contractor information on a spreadsheet.  Contractor information: here and here.

For detailed scoring information, see the Colorado appendix of Show Us the Stimulus.

Coordination & Oversight

Colorado is one of a handful of states where the governor can spend federal dollars without oversight unless it is specifically required. However, Gov. Ritter appointed a board to improve accountability on how the money is spent. The Accountability Board is made up of 12 business leaders, state economic development officials and lawmakers.

State officials have expressed concern about tracking certain types of spending of ARRA funds, such as money directed to energy programs (including weatherization funds), funds that are sent to municipal governments, and the state's Medicaid program (which has a history of poor management of funds).

The Accountability Board is chaired by Don Elliman, director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development.  Elliman was recruited to the position out of a background in publishing and various other business sectors.  He supports Colorado's stance on not offering excessive recruitment subsidies.

Policy Debates

HB 1346, The Colorado Recovery and Reinvestment Finance Act of 2009, passed on May 5. The bill "establishes the means by which public entities may finance public projects by issuing or entering into stimulus obligations authorized by ARRA, including Build America bonds, clean renewable energy bonds, new clean renewable energy bonds, qualified energy conservation bonds, qualified school construction bonds, qualified zone academy bonds, recovery zone bonds, and related lease-purchase agreements."

Like other states, the Colorado legislature had been working on a budget that slashed the state's higher education funding. In order to qualify for the federal stimulus education money, the legislature was forced to recraft its budget, and the new version was signed into law on May 1.  The revised budget protects higher education, health care, and human services in accordance with requirements made by the ARRA.

The state is concerned that its 18-year old accounting database system is too antiquated to respond to federal reporting requirements.  Like many states, Colorado has asked the federal government for further guidance.

In the last days of the Colorado legislative session, the legislature passed SB 297.  The measure allows state agencies to waive competitive-bidding standards for high-dollar projects if they appear in danger of missing federal economic stimulus deadlines.  The waiver was signed by Gov. Ritter on May 20.

July marked the beginning of the state's fiscal year and Gov. Ritter introduced a package of cuts and stimulus cash infusions to balance the state's budget.  The new budget relies on $39.8 million transferred from cash funds, as well as $52.5 million in increased federal funding for Medicaid programs through the Recovery Act. The plan also includes $80.9 million in stimulus funds to backfill cuts in higher education.

In late August, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced that stimulus money paying for state road and bridge projects has created - or maintained - 1,685 jobs with a total payroll of $2.14 million as of July 31. The state has also received nearly $32 million in federal stimulus funds for weatherization-assistance services for lower-income households.

Last updated on: 7 October, 2009

Quick Facts

Population:
4,939,456

Median Household Income:
$55,212

Unemployment Rate:
7.3%

Poverty Rate:
12.0%

Estimated Recovery Act Funding:
$2.8 billion

Watchdog Groups

Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute

Common Cause Colorado

CoPIRG (Colorado Public Interest Research Group)

FRESC

Resources

The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute (COFPI) has released a few short analyses of the impact of the Recovery Act funds in the state:

Detailed Explanation of Colorado's FMAP Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, February 19, 2009; online here.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, February 17, 2009; online here.

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