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, March 28, 2007

Roads and Prisons Beat Schools

The new state budget unveiled by Colorado legislators Monday once again underscores the difficult choices facing the state's money managers.

Simply put, passage of Referendum C in 2005 provided the state with enough extra cash to accelerate its highway construction program or restore the severe cuts made in higher education during the 2002-05 budget crisis - but not both.

The new budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 is the third spending plan to reflect the extra revenue voters authorized by approving a five-year timeout from the revenue ceilings imposed by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. And like its two predecessors, the 2007-08 budget applies Ref C revenues disproportionately to transportation needs while keeping other programs, including higher education, on a lean budget.

The upcoming budget contains at least $237 million from the state's $7.2 billion general fund earmarked for additional transportation funding, with 90 percent of that sum earmarked for highways and the remaining 10 percent to mass transit. That $237 million bonus is on top of the $620.1 million the Colorado Department of Transportation receives in earmarked highway funds, mostly from fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees channeled through the Highway Users Tax Fund. CDOT also administers an additional $415.3 million in federal highway funds.

In contrast, Colorado's battered network of community colleges, four-year colleges and universities eked out just a $52 million increase in the 2006-07 operating budget - just $1 million more than the $51 million increase funneled to prisons. Higher education at all levels will receive just $746.3 million in state aid next year.

Denver Post

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