Two weeks ago, we introduced you to General Fund and told you about the critical role he plays. Last week, we told you he is shrinking – in terms of real purchasing power per Coloradan, he's 25% smaller than he was just eleven years ago.
Using reasonable estimates of the number of undocumented immigrants and budget data published by the state, we estimate the total costs of providing federally mandated government services to undocumented immigrants in Colorado is nearly $225 million per year.
New findings from the Bell Policy Center show that undocumented immigrants in Colorado pay $159 million to $194 million in state and local taxes, an amount equal to 70 to 86 percent of their K-12 education, emergency health care and incarceration costs.
"The action of the Colorado Supreme Court saved Colorado voters from an expensive campaign on what even the initiative???s supporters agreed was a purely symbolic measure,??? said Wade Buchanan, president of the Bell Policy Center. ???It would have been a campaign centered on a false choice.???
Colorado???s governor and legislature should commit to taking the necessary actions to reform our health care system so all Coloradans have access to a core set of affordable, quality health care services. We should identify the most promising ideas for improving our health care system and put them into action.
HB 06-1270 represents a net opportunity gain for Colorado. Improved access to public medical benefits means eligible low-income students are more likely to be treated, which in turn boosts their chances for success in school. This is an important step toward closing the state's achievement gap.
The next governor and legislature should commit to eliminating the cliff effect from all state programs. They should review all the programs and laws involved and the interactions among them, and implement a comprehensive solution as soon as possible. A key component should be a sliding eligibility scale that gradually phases out benefits so that a family never loses more than it gains when its income increases.