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Tipton Blasts Polis Executive Order on Coronavirus Relief Funds

May 19, 2020
Press Release

CORTEZ, Colo.—Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) issued the following statement after Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an executive order allocating the $1.674 billion in federal funds the state received from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund:

“Governor Polis’ executive order directly contradicts what he previously told me. 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. Now he has unilaterally through an executive order decided how he would use the funds. Either the Governor has forgotten his own accounting of how the state budget process works, or his response in April was an effort to deflect and distract from the question of if he would distribute the funds to local governments for COVID related expenses, as so many have requested. Nothing about this executive order is collaborative or bipartisan, and local officials I have heard from-on both sides of the aisle-have expressed frustration about being kept in the dark. I hope the Governor has answers to the questions our communities will undoubtedly ask about the use of the relief funds.”

On April 17, 2020, Tipton wrote a letter to Governor Polis demanding an immediate explanation on rumors that the Governor would use the entirety of the State’s relief funds to backfill the state budget. Addressing questions from the media about Tipton’s letter, Polis stated, “As a former member of the Colorado House, Tipton knows that the Legislature, and not the governor’s office, decides how state revenues are spent.” Tipton followed up with another letter to Polis on April 23, 2020, requesting more information on the cost of the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including how the $487.6M in federal programmatic and grant funding along with the federal share of FEMA Major Disaster Public Assistance funding will help offset those costs. Tipton has not received a response to that letter. 

The CARES Act was clear that the nearly $1.7B in funds Colorado received could only be used for expenses due to the coronavirus public health emergency that were not accounted for in the most recently approved budget. The U.S. Treasury will ultimately make a determination on whether Colorado uses the funds appropriately. 

“The Governor’s executive order needs to be looked at critically by Treasury, and I challenge the Governor to explain how money for colleges to ‘increase student retention and completions’ are an allowable use of this money,” Tipton added.