DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado lawmakers ended a three day special session after passing 10 bills that provide hundreds of millions of dollars in coronavirus economic relief. The biggest allocation of funding – $60 million – went to help renters and landlords, including $5 million specifically for those unable to access federal aid because of their immigration status.
There’s also $5 million in energy assistance grants and another $5 million for food pantries.
The second biggest recipient is small businesses. Lawmakers approved $57 million in grants for restaurants, bars, caterers, fitness centers and cultural, arts and entertainment venues. Individual artists are also eligible for the aid.
The businesses must have lost at least 20% of their revenue since March and must comply with public health orders, even if the county where they’re located isn’t enforcing the orders. Restaurants, bars, mobile food carts and brew pubs also can keep up to $2,000 a month in sales tax through February.
Republicans pushed for more tax relief.
“The taxes that we have hoisted onto businesses in the last two years increases, increases in unemployment insurance, increase in benefits here, benefits there, all of these costs start adding up. That’s what businesses are drowning under,” said Republican Rep. Hugh McKean.
Businesses need workers and many workers need childcare. There’s also $45 million in grants for licensed child care providers or neighborhood youth organizations and $20 million to help the 66,000 school-aged kids who, the state says, don’t have internet.
Lawmakers are hoping the state can begin distributing the grant money by next month.
Not everyone who needs help will get help. There’s no money for retail stores. Democrats and Republicans agree more aid is needed.
McKean says, “We’ve helped a few folks a little. My worry is what they needed is a lifeline.”
“I call on Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to come together to get needed relief to plug as many holes as possible,” said House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.
In addition to the direct aid and tax relief, lawmakers also passed a bill that allows local governments to limit the fees delivery services charge restaurants and they transferred $100 million into the state’s emergency relief fund.
All ten bills that passed had Democratic and Republican co-sponsors.