Colorado State Archives
Executive Orders from the Administration of Governor Bill Owens 1999-2005
Wednesday, November 1, 2000
Amy Jewett Sampson
GOVERNOR OWENS ANNOUNCES STATE BUDGET
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2001-02
DENVER Ė Gov. Bill Owens announced today that Education, Health Care, Human Services and Corrections will receive the lionís share of funding in the state budget for fiscal year 2001-02. Combined, these categories make up about 90 percent of the budget as submitted by the Governor to the General Assembly today. State law requires the budget to be submitted by November 1 of each year.
"My highest priority is fully funding kindergarten through 12th grade education in Colorado. The full funding of education for the third year in a row means that the budget for our schools in the next fiscal year will be $590 million higher than in fiscal year 1998-99," Owens said.
Kindergarten through 12th grade education accounts for 40.4 percent of the Governorís budget. Included in the budget is an increase of $218 million which will fully cover inflation and growth in enrollment ($189 million), new capital construction at schools ($10 million) and Read to Achieve grants ($18.6 million). For K-12 education, the budget appropriates $2.3 billion from the General Fund, with an additional $2 billion in local funds.
Higher Education accounts for 13.7 percent ($775 million) of the Governorís General Fund budget, an increase of 3.8 percent from the previous fiscal year. The increase fully funds inflation and increases in enrollment, as well as other initiatives. The budget includes $500,000 to forgive student loans for new teachers pursing a career in K-12 education.
"I am recommending that we forgive student loans up to $8,000 for those students who agree to provide three years of service in a school that is having difficulty recruiting teachers. The Colorado Student Obligation Bond Authority will partner with us to provide further relief for these students. This incentive should help level the playing field so all schools can attract new teachers when they graduate," Owens said.
Health Care Policy and Financing Ė Medicaid Ė comprises 18.8 percent ($1.1 billion of the General Fund budget. The amount of General Fund money devoted to Medicaid has tripled since 1990, due primarily to increased caseload and rising medical costs. The Medicaid caseload is expected to grow 3.6 percent in fiscal year 2001-02, accounting for 40 percent of the rise in Medicaid costs. The balance of the increase is the result of higher medical costs and greater utilization of services.
The portion of the budget showing the largest percentage increase is in the area of Corrections. The 15.8 percent increase in the Corrections budget is due primarily to significant growth in the stateís prison population.
"Even with the increase, Corrections will account for only 8.6 percent of the budget. I believe there is a direct correlation between the increase in the prison population and the decrease we have seen in crime," Owens said.
From 1994 to 1999, major crime in Colorado dropped 22 percent, according to figures compiled by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
The Corrections budget of $487 million includes funds for operating two new prison facilities which are expected to open in fiscal year 2001-02: Trinidad (500 beds) and Fort Lyon (500 beds). In addition, $39 million in capital construction funds is being requested for 384 new high security prison beds and $20 million for the Denver Regional Diagnostic Center, expansion of the San Carlos facility, and the acquisition of Fort Lyon.
The budget also requests $17.7 million in capital construction funds for continued funding of a new digital radio system. This system will allow all public safety agencies to be on the same frequency and use the same technology during emergencies. The communications problem of agencies being on multiple frequencies was particularly difficult during the Columbine tragedy.
Based on a recommendation from the Civil Justice Reform Task Force, $2.2 million is budgeted to fund 24 new district court judges over the next five years.
"In the past 20 years, court filings in Colorado have increased 82 percent, but new district court judgeships grew only 12 percent. This has significantly impacted the stateís ability to dispense justice in a timely manner. It is time to address this issue. In some cases, justice delayed is not justice at all," Owens said.
The Governorís budget allocates 9.2 percent ($521 million) of the General Fund for Human Services. When available Medicaid and federal funds are added into this program, $1.8 billion will be available for Human Services in fiscal year 2001-02.
Highlights of the Human Services budget include:
The budget also allocates $35 million for Public Health. Through federal funds, that department will fund 11 new positions to increase and improve inspections at nursing homes. The Public Health budget also includes a new immunization tracking system for Medicaid children that is designed to improve immunization rates. Currently, only 76 percent of Coloradoís two-year-olds are immunized.
Increased funding for highways is also part of the Governorís budget. The budget requests $50 million in capital construction funds for statewide highway projects identified by the state Transportation Commission.
As part of the Year of State Parks, the Governorís budget for the Department of Natural Resources provides for an increase in personnel at State Parks. The 47 requested new positions will help protect the stateís natural resources and provide a high quality experience for park visitors.
The budget submitted to the Joint Budget Committee contains a 5.9 percent
increase in the General Fund and a 4.6 percent increase in all funds for state
government. This compares with average General Fund growth of 6.6 percent
annually during the previous five years and average growth in total funds of 5.8
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