The House passed three bills this morning to help struggling Coloradans continue to find affordable child care and provide financial assistance to seniors and people with disabilities to assist with things like rent, heat and fuel bills.
SB14-003, sponsored in the House by Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood), creates voluntary grants for counties participating in the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) to help families transitioning toward self-sufficiency. The bill specifically gives counties flexibility to implement policies that work for their local needs. The final vote was 42-23.
“Right now many parents unknowingly hit these income levels or have to turn down raises and promotions to remain eligible for the program,” Rep. Pettersen said. “We want to support families while they work towards economic independence and soften the consequences of the cliff effect. This bill will ensure that counties are able to develop solutions that work for their citizens.”
SB14-014, also sponsored by Rep. Pettersen, modifies the existing Property Tax, Rent and Heat Rebate program to provide increased assistance to those who already qualify for the program and expands the income eligibility requirements to allow more individuals to qualify for the rebates. Under the bill, individuals making $6,639 a year or less or married couples with a combined income of $10,731 or less can receive up to $700 a year to help pay rent and $192 a year to help pay heating bills. The bill is targeted at seniors and those with disabilities.
“This program provides many seniors and people with disabilities the assistance they need to stay in their homes and continue to live independently,” Rep. Pettersen said after the 37-28 vote.
SB14-003 will now head back to the Senate while SB14-014 heads to the governor’s desk.
SB14-012, sponsored in the House by Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs), begins to restore funding to pre-recession levels for the Aid for the Needy and Disabled program. The Department of Human Services is required to increase the monthly benefits of the program by eight percent this year and to fully restore benefits to pre-recession levels by 2019. The program provides assistance to Coloradans who have been medically certified as disabled and are unable to work for at least six months. The current monthly aid is $175. The House vote was 47-18.
“Many disabled individuals rely on this program to help them pay their bills during their injury,” Rep. Exum said. “This program suffered significant budget cuts during the recession and as our economy continues to recover we need to restore that funding.”
This bill now heads back to the Senate.