Looking Forward Collaborative urges JBC to protect the most vulnerable from cuts, take balanced approach that includes maximizing revenues
The Bell Policy Center, the Colorado Children's Campaign and the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute delivered a joint letter to members of the legislative Joint Budget Committee (JBC) yesterday outlining four principles they should keep in mind as they struggle to reach final agreement on next year's budget.
"No one has a tougher job than the folks who write our state budget," said Bell President Wade Buchanan, who signed the letter along with CO Children's Campaign President Chris Watney and CO Fiscal Policy Institute Director Carol Hedges. "In the difficult times we face today, there are no easy answers. But that makes it even more important that we get it right and have the budget reflect our values and our vision for Colorado."
"We intend this to be constructive input, and we hope the JBC members find it helpful," said Buchanan.
The four key budget principles outlined in the letter are:
• Protect the safety net and do the least harm to the most vulnerable Coloradans. Hard economic times like these are when families most need to be able to count on safety net programs.
• Take a balanced approach that considers revenues as well as cuts. Budget balancing can't just be about cuts. Colorado revenues are at historic lows compared to the economy. We certainly shouldn't be giving up even more revenues to special interest tax credits - especially when we are cutting schools and colleges so deeply.
• Continue to use the General Fund reserve to cushion against cuts. We have rainy day funds precisely for times like these. We can build the reserve back once the economy improves.
• Recognize the essential role government plays in ensuring our future prosperity. Too often the debate is framed falsely as a stark choice between the private sector and the public sector. In fact, we need smart investments by both to build a prosperous future.
The budget bill was scheduled to be introduced Monday, March 28, but debate among JBC members has delayed its release. The General Assembly has just over six weeks before it must adjourn in accordance with the state Constitution.