More state budget cuts

As a lame-duck governor, Bill Ritter doesn’t have a personal political stake in where spending cuts are made as the state continues to struggle with lower-than-anticipated revenue streams. But Ritter hasn’t wielded the budget axe haphazardly.

His latest round of proposed budget cuts, released last week, aim to protect K-12 public education and higher education, at least for the time being, while trimming in other areas of state government — particularly the Department of Corrections.

Per usual, his proposals have drawn fire. Republicans said he relies too much on federal stimulus money. And, indeed, a significant part of his proposed funding for higher education will come from the federal fund for next year. But the money won’t be available the following year, leaving lawmakers and college officials to wonder how they’ll make up that difference in the future.

Republicans have also argued that Ritter and Democratic leaders in the Legislature should do more to trim the state payroll. Ritter specifically rejected that idea last week, saying that state payroll has already been cut enough.

The GOP can make a reasonable argument that there is still room for more reductions in the state payroll, either in cutbacks in personnel, furloughs or other measures. But, as we have argued before, they should offer specific examples of where such cuts should be made rather than simply proclaim that hundreds of millions should be cut from state payroll.

Even though he will be leaving office at the end of the year, Ritter is no doubt as weary of having to make repeated budget cuts as most people in the state are of hearing about the cuts. But, while we may disagree with some of his latest proposed cuts, we believe he continues to do an good job, under very difficult circumstances, of making cuts as equitable as possible.


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