Feature: Navigating the Recession - Cuts to education and human services possible in Colorado

Published February 2009 Vol. 13 Issue 1

by Hank Lacey

The nation’s economy is sinking deeper into the worst recession in decades.  More and more Coloradans are suffering stagnant wages, loss of health insurance, unemployment and even the loss of their home.

Driven by deteriorating economic conditions, the Office of Legislative Council says Colorado is facing a budget shortfall of more than $600 million this year and about $300 million for the 2009 fiscal year, which starts July 1.  The consequences are likely to be big cuts to many government services that people all over the state, but especially in the Denver urban area, take for granted.

The state has been down this road before.  Between 2001 and 2003 Colorado faced budget shortfalls that eventually reached about $850 million in FY 2003 and about $900 million in FY 2004. The General Assembly balanced the budget, as the state constitution compels it to do, by imposing across-the-board cuts to state agencies and by using a variety of accounting measures to move expenditures into future years.

This time a solution might not be found so easily. Gov. Bill Ritter said as much during his annual State of the State speech on January 8.

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