Nov 30, 2023

An expert in policy advocacy and coalition building, Chaer has dedicated her career to helping people meet their basic needs and expanding economic opportunity. She serves on the executive committee of the All Families Deserve a Chance (AFDC) coalition. Staff page ›

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Recap: Special Legislative Session 2023

by and | Nov 30, 2023

In the aftermath of the 2023 November election and the failure of Proposition HH, Colorado Governor Jared Polis called a special session of the Colorado General Assembly, held from November 17 to November 20. 

Over the course of a fast-paced and grueling weekend of legislation, CCLP supported four of the seven bills introduced, considering their potential to positively impact on the lives of Coloradans, their families, and their communities who live below the Colorado Self-Sufficiency Standard. CCLP Legislative Director Chaer Robert provided testimony on HB23B-1002, supporting the proposed increase in Earned Income Tax Credit. (Text of her testimony is provided below.)


Bills supported by CCLP:

  • HB23B-1001 Emergency Rental Assistance Grant Program: Provides $30 million for this fiscal year (through June 30, 2024) for emergency rental assistance through the Department of Local Affairs portal and distributed to community-based organizations. Individuals must have income below 80% of Area Median Income. Half of the funding is from Colorado’s General Fund, and the other half is from the Revenue Loss Restoration Cash Fund. 
  • HB23B-1002 Increased Earned Income Tax Credit: Through their 2023 income tax form, those eligible for the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will receive an amount equal to half of the federal EITC, rather than 25% of the federal EITC for this year only. Working individuals earning less than about $16,000, and families with children who earn under about $50,000 may be eligible. An extra $182.5 million will go to the over 400,000 Coloradans who qualify as a separate TABOR refund mechanism this year. 
  • SB23B-002 Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer Program: Colorado is opting into this ongoing new federal program which will provide children who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches $40 on electronic benefits transfer card for each of the three months of summer. Colorado must pay half of the administrative costs — or about $6 million. Up to 350,000 Colorado kids will receive up to $42 million in benefits.  
  • SB23B-003 Identical TABOR Refund: Through their 2023 Income Tax form, all Coloradans will receive identical TABOR refunds this year, an estimated $847 for individual filers and $1,694 for joint filers for this year only. This would replace the six-tiered sales tax TABOR refund for the 2023 tax year, in which Coloradans earning under $51,000 per year would have received $586 for individuals and $1,172 for joint filers, while Coloradans earning above $309,000 per year would have received $1,834 for individuals and $3,668 for joint filers.  

Overall, the special legislative session made some positive, albeit temporary, steps forward for Coloradans. Each of the bills supported by CCLP ultimately passed by the close of session on Monday and were signed into law. Though CCLP would like to see more permanent supports for renters, working families, and all Coloradans struggling to get by with Colorado’s high cost of living, the expansion of the EITC and the session’s focus on more progressive tax policy gives some hope for more permanent change in the General Assembly’s regular session in January.


CCLP testimony on HB23B-2001: Increased Earned Income Tax Credit 

The following testimony was provided by Chaer Robert to the House Finance Committee in support of HB23B-1002: 

I’m Chaer Robert, representing Colorado Center on Law and Policy.  

Why is Colorado Center on Law and Policy such a big fan of the state EITC?  

  1. EITC is a refundable tax credit which supplements earnings for parents of minor children making up to about $50,000 per year, and for individuals earning up to about $16,000 per year. The maximum credit, for example, for a parent with two children, is $1,541 per year. At 25% of the federal EITC goes to parents earning between about $15,000 and $20,000 per year. This bill would double that. The benefit tapers off as a family reaches $50,000 per year, so there is not a sudden drop in the benefit. 
  2. The EITC helps families meet basic needs. Every few years, CCLP publishes the Colorado Self Sufficiency Standard. Even full-time at Colorado’s $13.68 an hour minimum wage, a parent with one preschool child earns less than one third of what it takes to meet basic needs without public or private support in metro Denver. Currently, 25% of working age households live below the self-sufficiency standard. 
  3. The Colorado State Median Household Income from 2017-2021 was $80,000. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data, renter households with incomes of 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) or less accounted for 63.7% of all renter households in Colorado in 2020; yet they accounted for 93.3% of all Colorado households spending more than 30% of their income on housing and 98.9% of Coloradans who spent more than half of their income on housing costs.
    When we look at which Coloradans are spending more than half of their income on housing costs, we see from HUD Affordability data that 8.6% of households with income above 80% of AMI paid more than half of their income on housing costs. Contrast that with the 67% of renters with income below 30% of the AMI who spend more than half their income on housing costs. 32% of renters, between 30% and 50% of the AMI spend more than half of their income on their housing costs. 
    This is who the EITC can reach.
  4. Even by the Department of Revenue’s own calculation in the 2022 Tax Profile & Expenditure Report (p. 200), those who earn the least pay a higher percentage of their income in state and local taxes than the highest earners. 

We ask that you please support HB23B- 1002.

Recent articles

CCLP testifies in support of Clean Slate updates

Bethany Pray, CCLP’s Chief Legal and Policy Officer, provided testimony in support of House Bill 24-1133, Criminal Record Sealing & Expungement Changes. CCLP is in support of HB24-1133, as it is one of our priority bills.

CCLP testifies in support of TANF grant rule change

CCLP's Emeritus Advisor, Chaer Robert, provided written testimony in support of the CDHS rule on the COLA increase for TANF recipients. If the rule is adopted, the cost of living increase would go into effect on July 1, 2024.


To maintain health and well-being, people of all ages need access to quality health care that improves outcomes and reduces costs for the community. Health First Colorado, the state's Medicaid program, is public health insurance for low-income Coloradans who qualify. The program is funded jointly by a federal-state partnership and is administered by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing.

Benefits of the program include behavioral health, dental services, emergency care, family planning services, hospitalization, laboratory services, maternity care, newborn care, outpatient care, prescription drugs, preventive and wellness services, primary care and rehabilitative services.

In tandem with the Affordable Care Act, Colorado expanded Medicaid eligibility in 2013 - providing hundreds of thousands of adults with incomes less than 133% FPL with health insurance for the first time increasing the health and economic well-being of these Coloradans. Most of the money for newly eligible Medicaid clients has been covered by the federal government, which will gradually decrease its contribution to 90% by 2020.

Other populations eligible for Medicaid include children, who qualify with income up to 142% FPL, pregnant women with household income under 195% FPL, and adults with dependent children with household income under 68% FPL.

Some analyses indicate that Colorado's investment in Medicaid will pay off in the long run by reducing spending on programs for the uninsured.


Hunger, though often invisible, affects everyone. It impacts people's physical, mental and emotional health and can be a culprit of obesity, depression, acute and chronic illnesses and other preventable medical conditions. Hunger also hinders education and productivity, not only stunting a child's overall well-being and academic achievement, but consuming an adult's ability to be a focused, industrious member of society. Even those who have never worried about having enough food experience the ripple effects of hunger, which seeps into our communities and erodes our state's economy.

Community resources like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as Food Stamps, exist to ensure that families and individuals can purchase groceries, with the average benefit being about $1.40 per meal, per person.

Funding for SNAP comes from the USDA, but the administrative costs are split between local, state, and federal governments. Yet, the lack of investment in a strong, effective SNAP program impedes Colorado's progress in becoming the healthiest state in the nation and providing a better, brighter future for all. Indeed, Colorado ranks 44th in the nation for access to SNAP and lost out on more than $261 million in grocery sales due to a large access gap in SNAP enrollment.

See the Food Assistance (SNAP) Benefit Calculator to get an estimate of your eligibility for food benefits.


Every child deserves the nutritional resources needed to get a healthy start on life both inside and outside the mother's womb. In particular, good nutrition and health care is critical for establishing a strong foundation that could affect a child's future physical and mental health, academic achievement and economic productivity. Likewise, the inability to access good nutrition and health care endangers the very integrity of that foundation.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) provides federal grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition information for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk.

Research has shown that WIC has played an important role in improving birth outcomes and containing health care costs, resulting in longer pregnancies, fewer infant deaths, a greater likelihood of receiving prenatal care, improved infant-feeding practices, and immunization rates

Financial Security:
Colorado Works

In building a foundation for self-sufficiency, some Colorado families need some extra tools to ensure they can weather challenging financial circumstances and obtain basic resources to help them and their communities reach their potential.

Colorado Works is Colorado's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and provides public assistance to families in need. The Colorado Works program is designed to assist participants in becoming self-sufficient by strengthening the economic and social stability of families. The program provides monthly cash assistance and support services to eligible Colorado families.

The program is primarily funded by a federal block grant to the state. Counties also contribute about 20% of the cost.


Child care is a must for working families. Along with ensuring that parents can work or obtain job skills training to improve their families' economic security, studies show that quality child care improves children's academic performance, career development and health outcomes.

Yet despite these proven benefits, low-income families often struggle with the cost of child care. Colorado ranks among the top 10 most expensive states in the country for center-based child care. For families with an infant, full-time enrollment at a child care center cost an average of $15,140 a year-or about three-quarters of the total income of a family of three living at the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) provides child care assistance to parents who are working, searching for employment or participating in training, and parents who are enrolled in the Colorado Works Program and need child care services to support their efforts toward self-sufficiency. Most of the money for CCCAP comes from the federal Child Care and Development Fund. Each county can set their own income eligibility limit as long as it is at or above 165% of the federal poverty level and does not exceed 85% of area median income.

Unfortunately, while the need is growing, only an estimated one-quarter of all eligible children in the state are served by CCCAP. Low reimbursement rates have also resulted in fewer providers willing to accept CCCAP subsidies.