Gov. John Hickenlooper presented his budget for 2012-13 today, and there was some good news, largely because of the slowly improving economy.
"Because of the hard work we did together in 2011 and 2012, the State's financial position is markedly improved," the governor said in a letter to the Joint Budget Committee. "Our plan reflects cautious optimism for Colorado's economy and a prudent, sustainable approach to managing the state's budget."
Colorado's fiscal situation forces many hard choices, and there is no better example than our continuing struggle to pay for higher education – and to make college affordable for students and families.
We will see two illustrations of that this week. Tomorrow, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education will continue discussions of possible changes to the state's need-based financial aid program, and the governor will submit his budget request for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
More than one Colorado political expert has said that the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights has had more effect on state government than any other ballot measure in the state's history.
TABOR, as the 20-year-old voter-approved measure is known, has been felt across the state during two recessions. It's best known for restricting Colorado governments – from the state down to school districts - from increasing taxes without a vote of the people. The measure was added to the state Constitution on Election Day in 1992.
We've told you before about "TBD Colorado," Gov. John Hickenlooper's non-partisan, collaborative effort to create informed and constructive conversations among Coloradans about some of the biggest issues facing the state.
TBD has been working hard to get Coloradans talking and to provide ways for residents to speak up and shape the future of our state. The latest effort is a series of videos on important issues and a Facebook page where you can answer survey questions.
Federal legislation has been proposed that would undo payday lending reforms enacted in Colorado and many other states, and it would prevent states from regulating these high-cost loans in the future.
We're happy to say that Attorney General John Suthers has joined 40 other attorneys general in opposing this legislation. The Bell is a member of the Coloradans for Payday Lending Reform coalition, which sent out this release yesterday.
It's nice to have friends when you're in court and the Lobato v. State school funding case has drawn plenty, some backing the parents and school districts that brought the lawsuit and others supporting the state officials who are defendants in the case.
The case has attracted 18 "friend of the court" filings with the Colorado Supreme Court, including 13 that support the plaintiffs, four backing the state's case and one that's neutral. The briefs represent the formal views of nearly 50 organizations and groups of individuals.
Colorado consumers saved nearly $100 million in 2011 thanks to changes in the state's payday lending law, according to data in a report released Monday by Attorney General John Suthers.
The report shows the impact of the first full year of reforms, which were a major achievement of the 2010 legislative session. A key feature of the reforms is a six-month minimum term for payday loans, which gives borrowers an opportunity to pay them off without rollovers.
We have watched the Lobato v. Colorado court case with great interest over the last several years. The plaintiffs, originally a group of Colorado students and parents that has now been joined by 21 school districts, allege that our state's method and level of public school funding fails to meet Colorado's constitutional obligation to provide a "thorough and uniform" system of education. Last December, a district court judge ruled in their favor.
Poverty is on the rise across America, in cities and even suburbs, and is expected to hit levels not seen since the 1960s, according to a survey of think tanks, academics and economists conducted by the Associated Press.
The rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent of Americans, and the estimate from the survey is that it will reach as high as 15.7 for 2011, the most recent year of data collection. Even if it rises to 15.2 percent, it will be the highest level since 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty. The low mark for poverty was 11.1 percent, in 1973.