With only a month left of session, we kept busy at the Capitol last week by discussing and voting on next year's state budget, and by moving more bills through committee.
Last Tuesday, April 2 marked Equal Pay Day - the day which women would have to work to this year in order to match the earnings of men in 2018. Unfortunately, this day is even further away for women of color (November for Latinas!). It is vital that we work to close the gap, which is why I was proud to sponsor the Equal Pay Day House Resolution. I am also a co-sponsor of SB19-085, the Equal Pay For Equal Work Act. It is time that we bring forward actual legislation to fix this issue - if we continue at our current pace without taking action, it will be 2057 before we reach pay equity between men and women in Colorado.
My bill on Mental Health Parity Insurance Medicaid was passed unanimously by the House Committee on Public Health Care and Human Services on Friday. Mental Health Colorado and other stakeholders have invested many hours into this, and I am so thankful to them, my co-sponsor Representative Tom Sullivan, and all who shared their support and personal stories during the witness testimony period.
Last Wednesday my bill Physician Assistants Supervision And Liability was referred out of the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Having already passed in the House, this bill is not far from a vote on the Senate floor. It has not yet been assigned a hearing date in the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Today my bill to streamline behavioral mental health licensing is being heard in the House Finance Committee. Our newest member Representative Perry Will recently agreed to sponsor this bill with me, and I’m thrilled to have bipartisan support for streamlining the licensing and regulatory framework for mental health and substance abuse care, which will ultimately improve access to this treatment for the people of Colorado.
It was a long week and several committee meetings were cancelled in order to accommodate deliberations over the long bill. The long bill is a budget proposal supported by the recommendations of the Governor's office in order to create a state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The House and Senate debated and scrutinized the proposed budget in order to come to a finalized version that the two chambers will have to reconcile. This is an intense process and one of our most important tasks as legislators for the state of Colorado. I am particularly enthusiastic about our increased budget for education, including $185 million for free full day kindergarten, and $77 million to buy down the education budget stabilization factor. And we have allocated $300 million to transportation. We have limited resources to fund a number of important priorities, and the Joint Budget Committee did an admirable job of navigating this process and negotiating on important issues that will directly impact Coloradans.
On April 13, I will be holding a joint town hall with Senator Tammy Story and Commissioners Dahlkemper and Tighe. It will take place at the Buchanan Recreation Center in Evergreen, from 10:30-12:00pm. We will be welcoming guest speakers Ali Mickelson of the Fiscal Institute, and Mary O'Neil, the Budget Director for Jefferson County. We are also excited for an opportunity to include Joe Neguse, who will be stopping in. Check it out on Facebook here.