Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Budget

The Colorado Senate will pass a budget on Monday.

For the first time in my memory, it will be a pure work of fiction.

Colorado’s Constitution requires a balanced budget for each year. This one will be balanced by taking money $500 million from an insurance company. Money that will never show up because the insurance company won’t just hand the loot over.

I won’t bug you with all the details of the budget. It’s really a mess with Constitutionally mandated spending increase requirements in some areas, Constitutionally protected revenues in other areas and everyone wanting more.

The key take away is this: the money from the insurance company (Pinnacol Assurance) is never going to materialize. They aren’t just going to hand it over and I don’t think the court will let the state take it. Ultimately, we’ll have to come back and balance the budget again and this time truly hard choices will have to be made.

The immediate fall back provision is to cut colleges by another $300 million. That’s on top of the $100 million reduction in the rate of growth that they’ve already taken. A $300 million dollar cut would be a real cut and would probably lead to the closure of several schools. That’s completely unacceptable; we offered rational alternatives, but the other side turned them down.

This won’t be over for a while.

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