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GOP criticism of Gov. Polis grows after executive order to allocate $1.6 billion in federal pandemic response funds

MONUMENT, Colo. -- It wasn't so much what Colorado Gov. Jared Polis did, but how he did it -- and now, state Republican leaders are upset.

Sen. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, became one of the most outspoken critics Tuesday, joining others who said Polis shouldn't have issued an executive order to bypass the legislative process and give him sole emergency authority to allocate $1.6 billion in federal money for coronavirus pandemic recovery.

The money is Colorado's share of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress.

In announcing the order Monday, Polis also explained which areas will receive funding, and how much. In a statement Tuesday, his office said the order provided him with the quickest way of getting funds to where they're most needed -- primarily to communities and schools facing huge budget deficits.

Republican leaders in the Legislature bemoaned the timing of the move -- coming a week before lawmakers return to session with a goal of slashing $3.3 billion from the budget.

"We've had discussions and we were preparing to make decisions but the governor is ignoring the voice of the people and the legislative process by taking it upon himself to allocate the money," Lundeen said.

Three leading GOP state senators -- including Bob Gardner of Colorado Springs -- issued a statement accusing Polis of abusing the power of his office. Even Congressman Scott Tipton, another Republican, issued a statement critical of Polis.

“Governor Polis’ executive order directly contradicts what he previously told me," the statement reads. "In April, I wrote to the governor asking him to address rumors on his plans for the state’s share of the CARES Act relief funds. He criticized me for questioning the potential use of the funds, said I did not understand how the state budget process works and said the Legislature, not the governor, would decide how the funds were spent."

Lundeen said he hopes growing criticism from lawmakers and voters will make Polis reconsider the order ad the allocations, which were made in agreement with the state House Speaker, KC Becker, D-Boulder, and state Senate President Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo.

"This isn't partisan politics," Lundeen said. "It's about the people's voices being heard, versus politicians having control. We were elected by the people to do a job and we're not being allowed to do it to the best of our ability."

It's believed that many Democratic lawmakers also oppose the order but are supporting Polis' decision for now.

Many are wondering why the funding allocations made by Polis include $85 million to the state Controller's Office for spending oversight.

The governor's office explained that the oversight allocation also covers payroll expenses and "other necessary expenditures for staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, including the Department of Corrections and the Department of Human Services," with a small, undetermined amount to be used for oversight.

It's worth noting that most of the allocations will cover the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 fiscal years.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

Comments

7 Comments

  1. Republicans are bound to criticize any action by Gov. Polis simply because he’s a Democrat. But in this case, it means they can’t fund their pet projects than have nothing to do with Coronavirus Aid, Relief, or Economic Security. And it’s hard to argue with providing aid to communities and schools facing huge budget deficits due to the pandemic.

  2. Funny how Repubs rage against heavy handidness when any decisions this Admin has made, they have bi passed and mocked Dom imput. I hope Repubs realize they wont hold the fort forever, possibly as soon as this year, and their tactics will be shoved firmly down their throats. We’ve seen how they act with a little bit of power.
    # NeverAgainRepublican

  3. “GOP criticism of Gov. Polis grows…” Like that’s news.

    “GOP criticism of Gov. Polis continues as usual.”

  4. Dem or republican does not matter. We have a government that is set up so that no one side can abuse their powers. We have a legislative branch for a reason. This is not a dictatorship. Polis did a good job with the initial handling of the pandemic. But to continue to, when not necessary, use powers of an emergency declarations is not ethical.
    People are commenting that republicans want it for their pet projects. Polis is using it for his pet projects and where only he sees fit for it to be used. There will be many communities that will miss out that were affected because we all know he favors Denver and Boulder communities over the rest.
    I am an independent and I believe we need to properly use the system that we have set up of the legislators. Otherwise if you say differently you are for a dictatorship. If it was a republican governor you all would be crying foul play.
    Following your “Party” just because its your “party” is blind ignorance. Slamming people who are not in your “Party” without giving it though it moronic. The two party system is what fails all the people of Colorado. Just do what is right because it is right. Call out what is wrong even if it is your favorite color party because it is wrong.

  5. Independents are just as likely to be angry with Polis’s actions as Republicans are! All that needs to be Reminded is that So Many people were lazy and sat on their rumps when The Recall Polis petitions were out there, waiting to be signed! Mr. DICTATOR Polis just laughs!

  6. ” primarily to communities and schools facing huge budget deficits.” Budget deficits are not what the corona virus relief fund is for, but by gum the governor is gonna fund people’s mismanaged budgets with the money anyhow. Might as well agree to balance NY Nj and other bloated overspending budgets with money designed to help businesses recover from the shut down.

  7. Polis: One for me, two for the State. Three for me, four for the state. Five for me, six for the state…..

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