Bill would extend Colorado’s deadline to spend federal relief funds

Bill would extend Colorado's deadline to spend federal relief funds

Colorado lawmakers introduced a bill this week that would extend their deadline to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds for several key priorities.

If passed, Senate Bill 21-178 would move the deadline to spend federal dollars the state received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on eviction legal assistance, human services referral services, low-income energy assistance payments, behavioral health services and immunization operating expenses, among other priorities.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon, chair and co-chair of the Joint Budget Committee, respectively.

Funding for the programs come from what’s known as the “care subfund” of Colorado’s general fund. The account was created during the 2020 session to keep money received from the CARES Act separate from state funds.

The care subfund was set to expire in July 2021. After that deadline, all funds would have reverted to the general fund for use elsewhere.

After the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 was passed on December 31, 2020, state lawmakers needed to extend the expenditure deadline to ensure all departments who received federal money have a chance to spend it, according to the bill’s text.

At the end of 2021, SB 21-178 would direct any unspent funds in the care subfund toward paying unemployment insurance claims.

This week, Colorado lawmakers announced a $700 million stimulus package made up of one-time funds intended to “jump-start Colorado’s recovery.” The state funds are expected to be available since the state’s budget projections improved for the fiscal year, lawmakers said.

Colorado’s state and local governments are also slated to receive $6 billion in in federal funding, along with $1.2 billion in emergency funds for schools, from the $1.9 trillion federal relief bill that President Joe Biden signed into law on Thursday.

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