Gov. Hickenlooper signs $26.8 billion budget into law

The governor praised the efforts of a Legislature that is split along party lines to eliminate a projected $700 million deficit and deliver a balanced budget that is required by law.

The first day of the Colorado state legislative session. Jan 11, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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DENVER (AP) — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed into law a $26.8 billion state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Hickenlooper on Friday praised the efforts of a Legislature that is split along party lines to eliminate a projected $700 million deficit and deliver a balanced budget that is required by law.

He did not veto any provisions of the budget, which slightly raises K-12 education spending and allocates marijuana revenue to affordable housing, mental health programs and efforts to combat illegal pot sales.

The budget is nearly 7 percent bigger than this fiscal year’s.

Looking to the future, the Democratic governor said lawmakers’ challenge will be to maintain Colorado’s economic growth, navigate its constitutional restrictions on government spending and ensure the welfare of a rapidly aging population.