Colorado lawmakers’ coronavirus aid plans include distributing $22.5 million in taxpayer money through nonprofits |

Colorado lawmakers’ coronavirus aid plans include distributing $22.5 million in taxpayer money through nonprofits

Democrats claim that sending the money through non-governmental organizations will ensure it is distributed quickly. Republicans worry about plans to send aid to people living in the U.S. illegally.

By Jesse Paul and John Frank
The Colorado Sun
Colorado State Representatives and staff mingle in the Colorado State Capitol's House chamber during the first day of Colorado's special legislative session on Monday, Nov. 30.
Photo by Andy Colwell / special to The Colorado Sun

Colorado lawmakers are planning to channel $22.5 million in coronavirus economic aid through nonprofits, a move that Democrats say will allow the money to reach people faster and target those unable to access government assistance, including immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The money represents about 10% of the roughly $200 million in relief the legislature is weighing during this week’s special lawmaking term. The idea, proponents say, is to avoid creating more government programs and to tap into the experience and existing relationships of nonprofits.

“I think it’s actually more efficient,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat.

But sending taxpayer dollars through nonprofits has prompted Republicans to raise questions about how the money will be spent and tracked. Conservative lawmakers are concerned about Democrats’ plans to use nonprofits to direct aid dollars to people who are living in the U.S. unlawfully when there is so much need among the citizen population.

“As always, the question is how much money ends up on target — in the hands of people who have specific and legitimate needs,” said Sen. Paul Lundeen, a Monument Republican.

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