Gov. Hickenlooper Unveils State Budget Plan, Says Cuts Will Hurt

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Facing historic shortfalls, Governor John Hickenlooper announced his plan Tuesday to balance the state budget -- which includes slashing $375 million from K-12 education.

Ultimately it will be up to the State Legislature to pass a final budget, but in a report sent to the Joint Budget Committee Tuesday, Governor Hickenlooper asked lawmakers to make $570 million in cuts and eliminate 263 full time positions with the state.

The plan calls for a $375 million reduction in funding to school districts across the state. That translates into a loss of about $500 per student for next year.

This comes on the heels of a $260 million cut for this year.

Officials say K-12 education makes up 41 percent of the state's budget -- the largest chunk of change it spends each year.

The report cites two major reasons for the increase in cuts this time around. First, stimulus money that helped backfill cuts the state made last year is no longer available. Second, decreasing property values have caused school districts to lose $117 million in property tax revenues. Hickenlooper says that's money the state can't afford to backfill.

"I think public education is the greatest anti-poverty program there is," said Hickenlooper. "But at a certain point if you don't have the money you can't keep spending it, no matter how worthy the purpose."

Higher education, human services, and Medicaid saw reductions as well. The Governor's plan also calls for closing a state prison on the Front Range, "repurposing" four state parks, and reducing local grants.

Another major component is restoring a four percent budget reserve, which equates to 14 days of operating funds for the state.

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  • by Nun Location: Grand Junction on Feb 22, 2011 at 09:59 AM
    They are targeting schools hoping that voters will be concerned about education to vote for tax increases. If the cuts don't hurt or are transparent to the taxpayer there is no incentive to allow tax hikes. DemocRATS always threaten schools, police and fire departments when discussing taxes. Then they increase wages and benefits for the masses of goverment employees and themselves. Take the opportunity in the future elections to send them a message. Vote Republican for lower taxes and smaller goverment. Goverment is not the solution it is the problem.
  • by enuffingerpointing Location: Fruita on Feb 17, 2011 at 06:11 AM
    It's definitely an unfortunate situation and I do think they could have taken money from legislators instead of schools. Finding places to make cuts in the budget would have happened no matter what party was in power. This started in a Republican House and continued through a Democratic House and will probably still be going on through whatever administration takes over next. The banks have had free reign for entirely too long and until that is stopped, this won't end.
  • by SERIOUSLY Location: gj on Feb 16, 2011 at 10:59 AM
    Schools are the best place? Really? Hmm... how about the $200000 plue legislators are being paid. Can we start there? Or the trips they take. Or reimbursement for their vehicles. How about the fact they get insurance and retirement. Seems schools should be the LAST place the budget is cut.
  • by Disgusted Location: Ritterville on Feb 16, 2011 at 06:53 AM
    Thank you Democrat voters for destroying the children's future. YES YOU DID! I hope you are proud of yourselves.
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