When Colorado Governor Jared Polis allocated $1.674 billion of Colorado CARES Act funds without bipartisan collaboration by signing Executive Order 2020 070, he made it clear who would get how much of the money.
But the back-and-forth, which began in mid-April, over the allocation process continues between the governor, a Democrat, and Colorado 3rd District Congressman Republican Scott Tipton.
Speaking with Colorado's Morning News on KOA NewsRadio, Rep. Tipton said the governor should not have acted on his own in determining how the funds would be allocated.
"I think it was important to consult with the state legislature," Rep. Tipton said. "We'd early on written a letter. We had a report come out saying that the governor was going to unilaterally distribute the money. The governor had written back to us saying it was going to go through the state legislature, meaning the JBC [Joint Budget Committee] would put together the program and put it before the legislature for their vote."
"That did not turn out to be the case," Rep. Tipton continued. "The governor decided to make his own decision and determine how to distribute the dollars. I think the thoughtful approach going through the state legislature to be able to hear from all parties from urban and rural Colorado, Democrats and Republicans, in terms of allocating the funds [is] an appropriate way to handle the dollars."
In a news conference on April 17, Gov. Polis himself said the process of allocation CARES Act funds would be a collaborative effort.
“The legislature has the power of the purse,” the governor said on April 17. “The JBC [Joint Budget Committee], the members of the legislature are going to work through this. And that means they’re going to have their competing interests that they’re going to need to balance. They’re going to be hearing from their mayors and their counties saying, ‘We need help.’ They’re also going to be hearing from their school districts and others that get funded by the State. If you’re sending money there, it means there’s less money for schools. That’s the work that we do in representative government. We of course look forward to working with the JBC and with the legislature.”
On April 23, Rep. Tipton sent a second letter to the governor expressing more concerns about how CARES Act dollars would be allocated.
He told KOA that Gov. Polis should have consulted the legislature and the JBC before allocating the funds and he had time to do so.
"It's important that all voices are heard. This 1.7 billion dollars that came to Colorado had been available for weeks," Rep. Tipton said. "We're all doing Zoom conferences, teleconferences right now. We can have those conversations and be able to adapt and be able to get that thought process going. The legislature is now back in session and I think they need to have a voice as well."
When asked by KOA NewsRadio about the lack of bipartisan input into the allocation of CARES Act money (audio below), Gov. Polis did not directly answer the question, instead saying said Rep. Tipton is simply playing political games.
"Oh my God, this politician Tipton, you won't believe how hypocritical [he is]," the governor said. "First of all, we talk every week on a call. He doesn't even bring this up. Then he writes me two weeks ago. He's like, 'I hear you're not going to send this money out to communities. How dare you. You need to send it out to communities.'"
"I said of course we're going to send it out, just give us a little time," Gov. Polis said. "Then we send it out. Then he writes, not calls, writes and says, 'How dare you send it out to communities without talking to more legislators.' We're following the law. It's not our money. The State can't use it. It goes to local communities. It went to county health departments. It went to school districts. It went to cities. And they need it because they're the ones incurring the expenses for COVID."
"I wish we got it out quicker but it took us this long to be able to figure out how to get it out with legislative leaders. It's out the door. Some of it has already moved to municipal or county accounts. That guy [Rep. Tipton] wrote the law and of course we follow the law and he likes to complain either way," the governor continued.
"It's all part of the game," Gov. Polis said. "It's just funny when politicians say, 'Send it out' and then you send it out and they say, 'Don't send it out.' What this money is for is for the health response. It's the reason we're able to have 34 community testing sites to tracers in the counties that make sure the people who have it or are exposed are notified. The quicker it gets out, the quicker we get everything open and go back to normal. Of course no governor who is half-way competent would sit on that money for
It is no secret that both sides play the political game, including Gov. Polis, who has still yet to clearly answer why, contrary to his statements on April 17, he did not include the state legislature or the Joint Budget Committee in the process of determining how CARES Act funds would be allocated.
Here is Gov. Polis on April 17, talking about working with the Joint Budget Committee and state legislature to allocate CARES Act funds.
The full interview with Rep. Tipton with April Zesbaugh and Marty Lenz on Colorado's Morning News on KOA on Thursday, May 21, 2020.
Comments from Gov. Polis on Colorado's Morning News on KOA on Friday, May 22 regarding the criticism from Rep. Tipton on lack of input from the state legislature on allocating CARES Act funds.
The full interview with Gov. Polis on Colorado's Morning News on KOA NewsRadio on Friday, May 22, 2020.