Column: Understanding the Long Bill

Joe Webb
Posted 3/21/23

The fiscal year for Colorado state government begins on July 1 and ends on June 30 of the following year.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Column: Understanding the Long Bill


Like any other large entity, the agencies of our state government work year round on the budget for the following year. It is important to understand some basics about the state budget before examining it in depth.

Ultimately the Governor of Colorado presents a budget to the legislature for its approval or rejection. The budget bill known as “The Long Bill” is the result of year round planning by different state agencies, the Governor and those who assist him. The Office of State Planning and Budgeting assists the Governor with planning his budget and making various spending recommendations to the legislature much like the Office of Management and Budget assists the president.

Once the legislature has debated the “Long Bill” both houses will vote on that bill and send it to the governor for his signature or veto. The Governor can sign or veto the whole bill. He can also veto various line item expenditures within the bill like the Governors from many other states. This is an ability the President does not have with the budget of the federal government.

The legislature has a significant input into the budget through the Joint Budget Committee. The Joint Budget Committee of the Colorado General Assembly is composed of six members currently, three Senators and three Representatives. Currently, it consists of two Democrats from the State Senate and one Republican. The House of Representatives also have two Democrats and one Republican on it. It is chaired by Jeffco’s own Sen. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada. The vice chair is Rep. Shannon Bird from Adams County. The purpose of the Joint Budget Committee is “studying the management, operations, programs and fiscal needs” of the Colorado state government. Their role is very important. In fact, at one time, it was said that the Chairman of the Joint Budget Committee was the second most powerful person in state government with only the Governor exercising more power. The Joint Budget Committee holds hearings and discussions on the state budget throughout the year even when the legislature is out of session. The committees work is that important because of all sorts of entities and individuals ought to have some input regarding government expenditures.

A wonderful feature of the internet and government transparency is that documents and explanations about different features of the state budget are online for perusal by the public. The narrative of the Long Bill provides an excellent example of what you can discover online. It provides year over year changes in appropriations (spending) in various subject areas. One area, Early Childhood, received an 1,841% increase in spending for FY2022. This, of course, is due to Gov. Polis’ initiative to establish universal pre-K education within the state of Colorado. That initiative is above and beyond the constitutional requirement that Colorado must provide K-12 education. Reading these documents, which can be found through any internet search, can be enlightening. The governor’s initiative re: early childhood education is but one part of the state budget even though an entire new department was created to oversee it.

My intent is to examine the budget in more detail. Future articles will include information from state agency heads about their annual budget work, interviews with current and former JBC members, as well as an analysis of what makes up the budget on both the revenue and expenditure side.

Joe Webb is the former chairman of the Jeffco Republican party.

Joe Webb, Jeffco, budget, Colorado


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.