Gov. Bill Ritter’s latest budget re-balancing plan, not unlike some of his previous actions, relies heavily on one-time money shuffles and federal stimulus funds, The Denver Post reports.
The plan announced today would bridge what Ritter’s office estimates as a $262 million shortfall in the state’s general fund for the current 2010-11 budget year that ends in June of next year. Colorado’s total general fund is now less than $6.9 billion.
A full press release follows, as do the documents Ritter released today.
GOV. RITTER ANNOUNCES NEW BUDGET-BALANCING PLAN
Gov. Bill Ritter today announced a new plan to re-balance the state’s Fiscal Year 2010-11 budget, closing a $262 million shortfall and keeping state spending in line with revenues. Since 2008, Gov. Ritter and lawmakers have cut spending and closed shortfalls of nearly $4.5 billion because of the recession.
“Over the past two years, we have made tough, unpopular and unenviable decisions in order to keep our budget balanced,” Gov. Ritter said. “We have preserved essential services, protected the safety net and minimized pain. We have done more with less and made state government more efficient than ever.
“We have taken a very strategic, very targeted and very fair shared-sacrifice/shared-solution approach. And because this strategy is working, you will see the same principles in today’s plan and in the Fiscal Year 2011-12 budget I will submit to the Legislature next month.”
Today’s balancing plan also includes an additional $35 million in cost savings that allows the state to maintain a 2.5 percent reserve and carry those savings into the next fiscal year.
Key elements of the balancing plan:
· Reducing the state share of funding for K-12 education by a net $156.3 million. However, schools will receive funds from the federal Education Jobs Act to hire teachers and staff and avoid increased class sizes and teacher layoffs.
· Transferring $55 million from the Local Government Severance Tax Fund, which provides grants to communities impacted by energy development, to the General Fund.
· Transferring $10 million from the perpetual base account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund, which will decrease the amount of funding available for loans to water users in FY 2010-11, with $21 million still being available for loans.
· Delaying by one month managed-care payments to Medicaid providers at the end of FY10-11 for a General Fund savings of $15.2 million.
· Delaying Medicaid fee-for-service payments for a savings of $55.1 million.
· Transferring $2.5 million from the Colorado Travel and Tourism Promotion Fund to the General Fund. This will not impact the anticipated funding level of $14.4 million for travel and tourism in the current fiscal year.
“While we face more difficult and painful choices ahead, Colorado remains in better shape than many other states,” Gov. Ritter said. “Last week, Forbes – for the second year in a row – named Colorado the fourth best state for businesses and for encouraging economic growth.
“Our economy is better today than it was a year ago, certainly than it was two years ago. And we continue to position Colorado for a strong, sustainable and healthy recovery.”
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