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Colorado leaders discuss plan to spend $3.8 billion in federal aid

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Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) – Members of Colorado’s state and federal delegations gathered on Monday to discuss how to spend the $3.8 billion the state will receive under the American Jobs Plan.

Funding priorities include spending $1.3 billion on shoring up the state budget while also investing in workforce development, affordable housing, and mental or behavioral health services. Approximately $700 million will be placed in a savings account for future economic stimulus, lawmakers said.

U.S. Reps. Dianna DeGette, Joe Neguse, Jason Crown and Ed Perlmutter, all Democrats, attended. Several state legislators, including House Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, and Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo, were also in attendance.

“I’m thrilled that we are putting forward a package that is true to Colorado’s values,” Gov. Jared Polis said at the news conference. “The funds flowing to Colorado offer a once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our quality of life, invigorate our economy, and help our state recover faster and stronger than ever before.”

The American Jobs Plan was introduced by President Joe Biden at the end of March as a means of “reimagining” and “rebuilding” the U.S. economy, according to a White House fact sheet.

If passed, the $2.25 trillion proposal would make comprehensive invest in transportation infrastructure and water systems and revitalize manufacturing.

According to a report by Vox, Democrats in Washington D.C. are having a hard time selling the proposal to their colleagues across the aisle. The GOP recently countered the American Jobs Plan by offering a $568 billion infrastructure-only package instead.

The song remains the same in Colorado, where state GOP representatives are assailing the speed at which local Democrats are attempting to pass their agenda.

"This morning, Democrats announced they will eventually have a plan to spend these dollars. We're happy to hear that and would like to be part of it,” Sage Naumann, spokesperson for Colorado’s Republican members of the House, said in an emailed statement.

DeGette, a former state legislator, described Colorado’s plan as one that would put money in the pockets of Coloradans and help keep many vulnerable communities in their homes and get back to work.

“This plan will help all municipalities in Colorado recover from the shock that the pandemic put on our economy,” DeGette said. “The money Colorado is receiving will help us build back better, and that’s what we intend to do.”