For all the good it will do, Colorado residents must insist that state lawmakers temper partisan politics as the state’s disastrous budget shortfall come steaming into the legislative session that began this week.
While the state has cut deeply the last two years, this is the year almost everyone will feel the pain. State lawmakers and Gov. Bill Ritter must somehow find more than $1 billion just to keep Colorado at the reduced spending level it’s at right now or cut nearly that amount from the budget. Extracting a billion dollars this year won’t go unnoticed by anyone.
Republicans are already sniping at the controlling Democrats, saying they didn’t cut deep enough last year, and now the pain will be intolerable.
That’s nonsense. When Republicans were behind the wheel, they, too, used every budget trick they could in bad times to keep the wheels on state government. Aurora and every city like it goes through the same motions: not replacing vacant positions, paring down reserves, looking at ways to increase tax revenues without increasing taxes.
The state is now out of relatively easy options.
Ritter has proposed that the state reduce public schools funding by a whopping $260 million. While the state can still keep per-student funding levels at last year’s mark, money for many other programs will be cut. There really is no good alternative.
Ritter is imposing another 2.5-percent pay cut on many of the state’s employees and ending a host of tax cuts and exemptions that appear to be questionable to begin with, such as tax perks for the direct-mail and fast-food industries, two business concerns that don’t appear to be ailing at this point.
But the big-ticket items must be pared back to make any real progress at meeting the $1 billion goal.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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.
Friday, January 15, 2010