Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Senate Legislators Aim For Health Care

The Republicans bristled at the thought of tobacco settlement money being pulled out of the transportation budget so that it could be allocated for health issues.

Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, and House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder, have introduced legislation to divert $34 million from tobacco settlement monies to the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and other programs that have been cut in tight budget years.

Republicans are bristling at the proposal, which would send half of the money to CU and the rest to programs that provide things like rural health care, mental health and drug and alcohol counseling for inmates, immunization programs and state employee health benefits.

"This takes money straight out of the transportation budget and converts it to mental health counseling for inmates," said Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs.

Fitz-Gerald, however, said the money does not come from transportation, but the general fund. While reducing the general fund overall can affect highway spending, she said, the tobacco money was always intended for health care. It was diverted into the general fund during the recession in 2003 to avoid exacerbating already painful budget cuts.

"We are taking it back, saying these are supposed to be health dollars," said Fitz-Gerald, noting that the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center ranks at the bottom nationally for funding of public medical schools.

Can you imagine? Putting health, education and counseling before (gasp) transportation?

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