Gov. Hickenlooper signs order authorizing $65.5 million more for flood relief

DENVER - Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Thursday, releasing $65.5 million for the ongoing response and recovery to the flooding that affected 17 counties.

The governor explained that $15.5 million of the new funds will be taken from the State's Controlled Maintenance Trust Fund. The other $50 million is being loaned from the Medical Services Premiums Appropriation.

Twenty million more dollars was also authorized for the Office of Emergency Management to use in short-term, no interest loans for local governments handling a flood response.

Hickenlooper says he and other lawmakers realized more funding was needed during a weekly conference call Wednesday.

"It became apparent to us that we needed to take this action and make these additional funds -- the 65.5 mill available -- after we spoke yesterday," he said.

Permanent repair of the state's highway infrastructure is estimated at $475 million, Hickenlooper announced. That does not include the costs for repairing local roads, which caused anxiety for several of the local leaders involved in the weekly conference call.

"They were very concerned about when FEMA was going to start to pay them back, where they were going to find the resources to start hiring contractors in real time," he said. "I think that we need to make sure all reasonable financial resources should be marshaled as quickly and efficiently as humanly possible."

Speaking in the State Capitol Thursday, Hickenlooper also discussed the possibility of calling a special session of the legislature.

"There's been some question about whether we're going to call a special session of the legislature. I think that depends on whether there is a need," he said. "We are certainly assessing our options and what are the perceived needs both from local community elected officials and from the legislature as well."

He also promised the state would enforce the maximum penalties for any price-gouging or looting related to the flooding.

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