DENVER (AP) — Colorado’s Legislature has passed an ambitious bill to spare hospitals severe budget cuts while generating $1.8 billion for transportation.
The House on Wednesday sent the complex legislation to the governor, who’s expected to sign it.
The bill was initiated by GOP Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. In a break from Republican orthodoxy, Sonnenberg exempted from state income limits payments that hospitals make to obtain federal matching funds.
Those funds are crucial to rural hospitals’ survival. And the need was acute this year: Colorado hospitals stood to lose $528 million because of cuts in those subsidies that were made to balance the state’s $26.8 billion budget.
By increasing recreational marijuana taxes and leasing state buildings, the bill also raises $1.8 billion for roads over the next 20 years. It’s the only roads funding measure this session. Both parties’ leaders had deemed transportation a top priority this year.
The Legislative session ends Wednesday.
Colorado lawmakers are concluding business for the year with hard-fought agreements on highways, hospitals and affordable housing.
But the split Legislature racked up a lot of misses, too, during the session that ends Wednesday.
Republicans who control the Senate and Democrats who rule the House failed to agree on a plan for what to do if the federal government scraps the health care law.
Negotiations on a complicated energy bill were hanging in the balance on the final day.
Highways and housing were top priorities for politicians in both parties this year. And they’ll have some accomplishments to brag about, especially a plan to borrow nearly $2 billion for highway infrastructure.
Lawmakers also made modest steps toward reducing homebuilder liability as a strategy to encourage more low-cost housing construction.
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