In Colorado, the 2020 election season is over. PERA-related issues were not on the ballot, but ballot issues can have a downstream effect on PERA.
PERA’s Public and Government Relations Manager, Michael Steppat, joined PERA On The Issues to talk about the election’s outcomes.
Welcome back, Michael. This was a busy election season, and Colorado voters had many issues to consider. What stood out to you?
It was a rollercoaster ride and I’m glad it is over. But seriously, I think something that “stood out” would be Coloradans’ desire to be engaged in the political process. Voter turnout in Colorado was higher than any previous election in the state’s history.
Many of the ballot issues Coloradans voted on will determine fiscal policy in the years ahead. Collectively, what implications will these changes have on the state budget?
Well, there’s obviously a lot of moving parts here, but the impacts to the state budget are huge.
The approval of Amendment B to repeal the Gallagher Amendment is a big deal in terms of how the state manages fiscal policy moving forward, but also prevents budget cuts that would have gone through in the next fiscal year had it not passed.
At the federal level, talks for another fiscal stimulus bill have been stalled for months. Now that the election is over, will negotiations quicken, or shouldn’t we expect so see anything materialize until 2021?
TBD. It’s difficult to predict what happens in Congress even under normal circumstances. Hopefully there will be some movement in the lame duck session to pass another stimulus bill, because it is desperately needed across the country.
Using federal stimulus dollars for state and local budgets has been one of the biggest issues of disagreements thus far. How would these dollars be used? If they were included in a future stimulus act, would they increase the likelihood that PERA receives a direct distribution in 2021?
That is the million-dollar question. Would these dollars come with strings attached or will state/local governments have some flexibility? Most will again be focused on the state’s budget situation entering the next legislative session.
We hope to meet up with you again in early January when we publish our annual legislative preview. Until then, what will you be watching as next year’s legislation session begins to take shape?
Lawmakers will again be focused on policy responses to COVID-19. However, the extent to which other priorities can be addressed will largely depend on what happens these next few months from a public health standpoint.