Last week in the Senate we passed 37 budget balancing bills to address this year’s $600 million revenue shortfall.
Now remember, we have a budget that runs in the $18 billion dollar range so let’s keep $600 million in perspective.
Most of the bills reduced expenditures in 20 or so departments of state government. For instance, the Agriculture Department took a reduction of $470,000 and the Department of Higher Education took a reduction of $30 million.
The big fights came over a bill that converted cash reserves to general fund and a bill that reduced the reserve account from about $300 million to $150 million.
The cash fund conversion is from specific fees and taxes like the workers compensation cash fund or severance tax fund to general fund where it can be spent on anything. It’s kind of like raiding all your savings accounts to pay your monthly bills. In total, it amounted to $236 million. I voted against it because I think we should be reducing spending, not propping it up like this.
We do need to recognize that during the last recession, the GOP led legislature did the same thing. I voted against it then too.
I also voted against the bill that reduced the reserve account which lets the Legislature spend that $150 million to backfill against lost revenue. It’s what the reserve account should be used for, but I think it would be a lot smarter to hold onto that money until next year, because I think we may need it.
Finally, the federal “stimulus” bill will send several hundred million to Colorado to be used to prop up Medicaid expenditures and education expenditures. It’s truly a shame that we will wrack up huge debt for our children and grandchildren to prop up mostly social spending today.