The bill creates the healthy school meals for all program (program) in the department of education (department) to:
- Reimburse school food authorities that choose to participate in the program (participating school food authorities) for free meals provided to students who are not eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal school meals programs;
- Provide local food purchasing grants to eligible participating school food authorities;
- Provide funding to participating school food authorities to increase the wages or provide stipends for individuals employed to prepare and serve food; and
- Provide assistance to participating school food authorities through the local school food purchasing technical assistance and education grant program.
The portion of the program that provides reimbursement for school meals begins operating in the 2023-24 budget year. The remaining portions of the program begin operating in the first full budget year after the state of Colorado begins participating in the federal demonstration project to use medicaid eligibility to identify students who are eligible for the federal school meals programs (demonstration project).
A participating school food authority must:
- Provide free meals to all students enrolled in the public schools that the participating school food authority serves and that participate in the national school lunch program or national school breakfast program;
- Provide to the department annual notice of participation; and
- Maximize the amount of federal reimbursement by participating in the federal community eligibility provision to identify students who are eligible for the federal school meals programs.
The amount of reimbursement distributed pursuant to the program is equal to the federal free reimbursement rate multiplied by the total number of meals served minus any other federal or state reimbursement the school food authority receives for providing meals.
The bill requires the department to:
- Participate in the federal community eligibility provision for the state as a whole, if that option is available; and
- Apply to participate in the demonstration project.
Under the bill, a participating school food authority that creates a parent and student committee to advise on food purchasing (advisory committee) is eligible to receive a local food purchasing grant (grant) to purchase Colorado grown, raised, or processed products for school meals. Each eligible participating school food authority must comply with reporting requirements. The bill establishes the amount of the grants, limits on how the grant money may be spent, and the required membership of the advisory committee. The department must annually review a sample of the invoices for purchases made using grant money to ensure compliance with purchasing requirements.
The bill creates the local school food purchasing technical assistance and education grant program (grant program) under which a statewide nonprofit organization distributes grants to promote the purchase of Colorado grown, raised, or processed products by participating school food authorities and to assist participating school food authorities in preparing meals using basic ingredients rather than processed products. The nonprofit organization must report annually to the department concerning implementation of the grant program.
The department must submit to committees of the general assembly a biennial report concerning implementation of the program. The department must contract with an independent auditor to conduct a biennial financial and performance audit of the program. The report and the audit must include implementation of the program, implementation of the local food purchasing grants, use of the additional amount for increasing wages or providing stipends, and implementation of the grant program.
The bill directs the general assembly to appropriate annually, by line item in the annual appropriation bill, the amount necessary to implement the program, including a specified amount for the grant program.
Current law caps state income tax itemized deductions for taxpayers who have federal adjusted gross income of $400,000 or more at $30,000 for single filers and $60,000 for joint filers. The bill applies the cap to both itemized and standard income tax deductions for taxpayers who have federal adjusted gross income of $300,000 or more and lowers the cap to $12,000 for single filers and $16,000 for joint filers. The amount of revenue generated by the changes to the cap must be appropriated to fund the program. If the program is repealed, the changes to the cap no longer apply.
The bill takes effect only if it is approved by the voters at the November 2022 general election. This approval is a voter-approved revenue change that allows the state to retain and spend all revenue generated by the changes to the cap on state income tax deductions.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)