Live blog: Bill Ritter's budget meets the Joint Budget Committee

Categories: News, Politics

a ritter on flickr.jpg
Bill Ritter is budgeting his time -- and timing his budget.
Editor's note: Westword is live blogging Governor Bill Ritter's presentation to the state's Joint Budget Committee about his proposed 2010-11 budget. The state is facing a $1.02 billion shortfall. The most recent posts are at the top. For the complete story, read from the bottom up.

3:50 p.m.: Ritter answers his last question, about the new energy economy. He calls Colorado a "hub" and then exits the room quickly, with a "thank you very much." Someone dims the lights.

3:46 p.m.: Ritter on Josh Penry: "I hope we're able to work together during the session ... Josh Penry was running in a primary race and made a decision to back out. This is a pretty tough business... and I respect his decision."

3:45 p.m.: Ritter: "I've scoured this budget from top to bottom and the
place that's always of concern is education... But I think that what we are hopeful of is that we have balanced against a forecast is pretty accurate, that further cuts are not necessary."

3:40 p.m.: Ritter on public school cuts: "We're hoping that schools are going to find a way... to operate with this new economic reality. We're doing a host of things on the reform effort that are going to improve the way kids in Colorado learn... I think parents appreciate the kind of stubbornness we've had on school reform."

Ritter on Republic Airways moving jobs from Denver to Milwaukee: "At the end of the day, that's their business decision."

Ritter on sales-tax exemption on candy and soda: "If you're buying a $1 candy bar, you pay 3 cent sales tax... We just viewed it as something that doesn't do anything to our competitiveness."

3:30 p.m.: A dozen or so members of the media are waiting for Ritter in a room in the back of his office. A tiny podium has been set up at the front of the room, with a glass of water next to it.

While we wait... more nuggets from the budget-cut packet.

Among what is not being cut: prison staffing, money for breast and cervical cancer screenings, DMVs, Meals on Wheels

Ooh, Ritter just came in.

3:11 p.m.: The hearing is over. There will now be a media availability.

3:10 p.m.: Ritter is talking about the measures the state is taking to save money in the Department of Corrections, including "double-bunking women." He's explaining why the state is choosing not to open CSP2.

3:05 p.m.: Saliman is responding to lawmakers' questions, explaining how the cuts to public school funding will be distributed among school districts so they're all reduced equally.

2:57 p.m.: Rep. John Pommer to Saliman and Ritter: "You've done a good job. It can't have been easy."

2:50 p.m.: State Budget Director Todd Saliman is very quickly going through the packet, which outlines what's being cut and what's not. He's summarizing bullet points as people in the audience follow along.

Not being cut: full-day kindergarten, services to people with developmental disabilities, money for community health centers.

What is being cut: money for public schools, higher education funding, funding for tobacco-related programs.

2:35 p.m.: Ritter has begun his presentation to a packed room in the Legislative Services Building on 14th Street. Most attendees are leafing through a thick packet called "Tough Choices, Shared Sacrifices, Spending Less."

"This is a new economic reality we're in," Ritter says. He says the 2010-11 budget will be "our most challenging budget yet.

"It's a fair and a balanced budget, both figuratively and literally," Ritter says of his plan. He says "we're making government leaner, more nimble and more efficient."


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