STATE BILL COLORADO
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter’s chief of staff says on a left-leaning political blog that the cash-deprived state has “long term … serious issues” that it needs to tackle.
Jim Carpenter cited those issues as “higher ed funding, safety funding, K-12, TABOR and constitutional contradictions, etc.” He made the posting on ColoradoPols.com.
Carpenter noted the complexity and the delicacy of the most recent budget cutting round, which trims $271 million on top of cuts that now total more than $2 billion.
“The Gov. sought to do this responsibly, fairly and thoughtfully, within very limited options,” Carpenter wrote. “His goal was to keep pain to a minimum, protect the safety net, and preserve key services — demand for which actually is increasing in the recession. (Funny how some think that we can get by with fewer snowplow drivers, teachers, corrections officers, etc.).
The cuts were capped by an unexpected $28 million increase in Medicaid caseload.
Carpenter used the Medicaid increases, which he said total 45 percent since 2007-08, as “another reason for national healthcare reform.”
In the short term, Carpenter and the governor hope to derive more state revenue from economic growth.
“This month alone, two major new energy economy companies — SunRun and SMA Solar Technology — have announced plans to open their doors and hire over 700 new workers here in Colorado,” he wrote. “Our unemployment rate is at 7% (nearly 3 points lower than the national rate). There’s a long way to go, but many hopeful signs. Still, state budget revenues traditionally lag, so even with better economic news, the budget news remains challenging.”