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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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Tricia Location: Delta on Aug 20, 2009 at 06:57 PM
    It is really amazing that we can give proper health care to criminals and illegal aliens and turn around and shut the doors on innocent and loving special needs patients. These people have never harmed so much as a flea and are completely innocent angels. My brother-in-law was supposed to live to be around 4 years old but with the care of the wonderful staff at the GJRC, he lived to be in his 40's. My children were raised going to the Center to spend time with him and we all learned so much compassion from not only the staff but also the patients. We should all be so fortunate. The staff knows each and every individual and they care for the patients as if they were their own children. It is truly their home. The patients don't even receive that treatment in the hospitals. My family has witnessed that several times. To take jobs away from people who are so dedicated seems to be more of a crime than helpful to our budget. Can't we cut spending where compassion doesn't exist?
  • by regina Location: grand junction on Aug 20, 2009 at 12:10 PM
    Governer Ritter has obviousley never been taken from the only stability he knows and thrown to the lions. This is exactly what he is doing to the innocent people at the GJRC. I truley beleive that he will not be happy till there are no jobs left in this valley (Except his job). He started the cusade against jobe this winter with the closing of the oil and gas industry and has not stopped yet. We hand out millions of dollars every year to crack heads who refuse to use bith control. CUT WELFARE, DRUG TEST FOR MEDICAID AND WELLFARE RECEIPIENTS! We would cut millions and eliminate welfare faud. We cant do this it makes sense lets just continue to supporting the meth heads of grand junction and cut more jobs. I am outraged that this is even being considered. More jobs GONE!!!!When will the madness stop? What next are we to close all public schools and home school our kids? I guess we could since nobody will have jobs!!!!!!WEATHER YOU ARGEE WITH ME OR NOW WE NEED TO GET RITTER OUT!!!!!
  • by Anonymous Location: grand junction on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:59 PM
    the care that the people get at GJRC will not be the same at a nursing home. the staff that have cared for the paients have been there a long time. yes i think that we need to cut cost but why does GJRC have to do it? there are several nursing homes in the grand valley that can close and move there paients to other places. the paients at GJRC have been there a long time. that is there home. its sad to say but im sure some of them will die if they are moved! i really think that this needs to be looked at a bit more. a very poor choice if you ask me!
  • by Anonymous on Aug 19, 2009 at 05:20 PM
    My brother was the guy in this interview. I am outraged that Bill Ritter did this instead of cutting from elsewhere. Studies show that without a 24 hour constant care facility, these guys will have serious problems and it may shorten their life spans. I do not think that the deserve to loose their homes because of this budget cut. Join Save Tylers Home, a website on yahoo that is being posted soon and help us stop this injust decision!
  • by Tammi Location: Grand Junction on Aug 19, 2009 at 12:23 PM
    What is our Governor thinking??? Let's put people out on the streets who cannot take care of themselves adequately. Let's make our prison system unsafe, especially since they hold some of the most evil unhuman figures around. How much more do the people of Colorado have to take before we've had enough of this idiot??? He's already killing our oil and gas industry, why not go ahead and bury our educational systems along with everything else? How can our government justify giving billions of dollars to the auto industry and cutting education, health care, and our prison/emergency systems? How did our country get so messed up? Who's running this show, anyway??? Oh, I remember, Obama. Terrific. Get ready, this is only the beginning of the end of our once great and proud country. We will soon be the United Socialist Republic of North America.
  • by Ray Location: Grand junction on Aug 18, 2009 at 07:39 PM
    I beleive in cutting cost but it sounds to me like he is going to hurt an already struggling ecomony! If this is such a big deal why is it just now being delt with. Why does it have to come down to more people losing jobs. Governor Bill ritter may think its all good because he will get to keep his job, I believe in a whole the state should do something about him!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • by Lynn Location: Stewart on Aug 18, 2009 at 11:19 AM
    Mr. Ritter should REALLY look at the impact of closing the Grand Junction Regional Center. Not just jobs will be lost but a safe environment for the disabled will be gone. I'm not sure if Ritter ever actually looks at all the facts.
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