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Colorado Lawmakers Reviewing Long List Of Potential Budget Cuts

The new School Safety Committee will aim to come up with five new bills to make schools safer.
The new School Safety Committee will aim to come up with five new bills to make schools safer.

Colorado House Speaker KC Becker took to Twitter on Monday to vent about the grim task she and other state lawmakers will face next month when they return to the Capitol to try and write a budget during the coronavirus pandemic.

"About 1000 pages and maybe as many recommendations for state budget cuts that #coleg will be considering shortly," she wrote above a photo of giant binder of budget documents. "Just some light reading for the policy geeks out there. Ugh."

The giant binder of documents Becker is combing through includes several potential cuts for lawmakers to consider as they face a potential $3 billion deficit next year.

The items that could be on the chopping block range from grant funding to build new schools in rural districts to, under some worst-case scenarios, the funding for full-day kindergarten.

The kindergarten funding was Gov. Jared Polis' top legislative priority during his first year in office.

State budget analysts prepared a list of potential cuts for every state department. They include options for several scenarios ranging from a flat budget to one that needs to be cut by 20 percent.

The documents stress there is still much uncertainty in the state's budget. For example, analysts say the revenue projections have grown more dire since the last revenue forecast came out mid-March.

Those numbers, which reduced revenue projections made in January by nearly $1 billion, came out before the state's ski areas were closed along with restaurants, bars, movie theaters and other sales tax generators.

Now budget analysts are bracing lawmakers for what will be the difficult task of deciding which government programs will become victims of the coronavirus pandemic.

View the budget scenarios here.

Lawmakers will get an updated revenue forecast on May 12.

They hope to return to the Capitol on May 18 and agree on a new budget by June 1.

Copyright 2020 KUNC

Scott Franz is a government watchdog reporter and photographer from Steamboat Springs. He spent the last seven years covering politics and government for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, a daily newspaper in northwest Colorado. His reporting in Steamboat stopped a police station from being built in a city park, saved a historic barn from being destroyed and helped a small town pastor quickly find a kidney donor. His favorite workday in Steamboat was Tuesday, when he could spend many of his mornings skiing untracked powder and his evenings covering city council meetings. Scott received his journalism degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is an outdoorsman who spends at least 20 nights a year in a tent. He spoke his first word, 'outside', as a toddler in Edmonds, Washington. Scott visits the Great Sand Dunes, his favorite Colorado backpacking destination, twice a year. Scott's reporting is part of Capitol Coverage, a collaborative public policy reporting project, providing news and analysis to communities across Colorado for more than a decade. Fifteen public radio stations participate in Capitol Coverage from throughout Colorado.
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