Monday, March 19, 2012

Colorado is far from closing the gap left by deep budget reductions in recent years

As lawmakers consider the latest state revenue estimates and how to balance providing services for Colorado families and the potential for tax breaks for some, it is important to note the state has a long way to go to make up for cuts to schools and other services in recent years:
  • Public schools have been cut $419.4 million in the past three years
  • Higher education has been cut $122.7 million in the past two years
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) faces a $23.9 million cut next year 
Colorado can and must do better to support families and communities. Before we celebrate potentially avoiding dramatic new cuts, we should strive to reduce the effect of past cuts. We need to stay focused on real solutions that balance our health and education needs and move Colorado forward. Colorado’s economic competitiveness depends on supporting working families and providing opportunities for children.
Listed below are details of some budget cuts already proposed. The reductions do not address rising student populations (except where noted) in kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education, rising caseloads in TANF, inflation, or other increases in demand for services that have occurred due to the recession. If those factors were considered, the size of the cuts would be much larger.
K-12 education
  • Total program funding in Fiscal Year 2009-10 was $5.59 billion. In FY 2012-13, Joint Budget Committee (JBC) staff proposed $5.17 billion.
  • General Fund spending for schools in FY 2009-10 was $3.08 billion. In FY 2012-13, JBC staff proposed $2.74 billion.
  • The JBC staff proposal for FY 2012-13 is $753 per student less than FY 2009-10. The number of students increased 27,710 during that time. 
Higher education
  • The College Opportunity Fund is down from $594.1 million in FY 2010-11 to $471.4 million in FY 2012-13. 

  • Reduced federal aid and the loss of prior budget balancing measures might result in a $29.3 million cut to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families in FY 2012-13.

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