Grand Junction Regional Center 32-bed facility on Ritter's chopping block

By: KKCO - Email
By: KKCO - Email

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter is proposing to cut up to 266 state jobs and slash prison services and medical programs to close a budget shortfall.

Ritter presented his budget plan to lawmakers on Tuesday.

He says he plans to cut $320 million by the end of the current fiscal year in 2010.

Ritter says he did his best to protect critical programs for public safety and welfare.

He says he also protected programs needed to help Coloradans struggling because of the economy.

We will feel the pinch here in Grand Junction.

The state says that move alone will save $1.3 million a year.

Below is the news release issued by Ritter's office. A PowerPoint presentation and links to additional information are posted below this story. 11 News will have local impact and reaction tonight at 5:30 p.m.

Gov. Bill Ritter today presented to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee a balancing plan that closes a nearly $320 million shortfall in the current 2009-10 budget. The package includes more than 100 separate items, and most aspects will take effect Sept. 1.

The plan represents a 10.4 percent reduction in spending levels from last fiscal year and includes $261 million in service and program cuts, the elimination of nearly 270 full-time equivalent positions, and $40 million in cash-funded program reductions.

“The plan I’m presenting today reflects the same values, the same culture of cost-cutting and the same smart investing we’ve been doing since January 2007,” Gov. Ritter said. “I approached this thoughtfully, surgically and compassionately. We’ve struck the right balance by minimizing pain, protecting critical services and maintaining investments in our future.

“We’ve preserved the safety net for a growing number of people living on the margins,” Gov. Ritter said. “We’ve protected health care for children, pregnant women and other vulnerable populations. We’ve tried to maintain the gains we’ve made for people with developmental disabilities and mental illness.

"And we’re still investing in small businesses, job-creation, infrastructure and education so we can recover stronger, healthier and quicker. Still, you can’t reduce spending this much without impacting services. Sadly, many people are going to feel the pain of these cuts. Many people will be making sacrifices to help all of us get through this tough time.”

The FY09-10 balancing plan outlined today calls for reductions large and small, including permanent cuts to the base:

- Eliminating nearly 270 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions. Pay raises have been frozen until at least July 2011 and employees are taking four unpaid furlough days this year.

Human Services
- Closing 59 beds in the children, adolescent and geriatric units at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan, eliminating 48 FTE and saving the General Fund $1 million this fiscal year and millions more in the future.
- Closing 32-bed nursing facility at the Grand Junction Regional Center, eliminating 57 FTE and saving the General Fund $1.3 million this fiscal year and millions more in the future.
These services can be effectively provided by non-state agencies within their communities.

Health Care
- Reducing provider rates by 1.5 percent, reducing funds to Federally Qualified Health Centers by $1.5 million General Fund, and making other reductions totaling $115 million.

- Implementing an innovative pilot program that complements Gov. Ritter’s anti-recidivism initiative and was recommended by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. The pilot will: Accelerate the transition from parole to the community for qualifying parolees; Utilizing the savings to provide enhanced, targeted and front-loaded supervision and services for new parolees; Accelerate the transition from prison to parole for qualifying inmates who are already eligible for parole and whose mandatory release dates are within 180 days.

These steps will save $18.9 million in the General Fund and align Colorado with half of all states now making similar changes so they can more responsibly manage limited resources.

Higher Education
- Reducing the state’s investment to colleges and universities by $80.9 million. However, these reductions will be backfilled with federal Recovery Act funding.

Vehicle Fleet
- Reducing the state commuter program, which allows certain state employees to use state vehicles for transportation between work and home, saving the General Fund $475,000.

Tony Grampsas Youth Services Grant Program
- Eliminating $1 million in state funding.

“All of these actions reflect today’s tough times,” Gov. Ritter said, “but they also reflect where we’ve been and where we need to go. We’ve made great progress since 2007 investing in education, health care, economic development and innovative public-safety programs.

“Yes, the economy has slowed us down. But it hasn’t stopped us. Our vision remains strong, to create jobs of the future, to keep building the New Energy Economy, to lead the nation in education and healthcare reforms.

“Even in these tough times, our strategy is working. We remain far better off than many other states, and I’m confident that by working together we’ll come out of this downturn stronger, healthier and more determined than ever.”

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