Ritter’s painful budget message on target

Gov. Bill Ritter issued an edict to state agencies late last week that no doubt caused a great deal of heartburn to both agency heads and their employees:

Come up with a plan to cut your budgets by 10 percent, the governor said. Decide which of your programs are least effective and least efficient and therefore would be best to eliminate.

And be prepared to layoff workers as part of the cuts.

Well, bully for Bill.

Business owners throughout Colorado have been going through similar exercises for the past eight months or more. They’ve been looking at tumbling revenue and examining ways to cut their spending to make ends meet. And, unfortunately, that has often involved making painful decisions about reducing the number of employees. Families have also been making difficult decisions about what they can and can’t afford.

Coloradans have every reason to expect their state government to take a similar approach, not rely on budget sleight-of-hand and cash from the federal government to solve their problems.

That, unfortunately, is what the Democrat-controlled Legislature did this year. And the state now faces a $249 million shortfall when the current budget year concludes June 30.

To cover that shortfall, Ritter plans to borrow money from the budget year beginning July 1.

But that only compounds a budget shortfall already built into the coming year’s budget.

Projections now are that there will be a $384 million budget shortfall in next year’s budget if nothing is done.

We’re happy to see Ritter isn’t sitting on his hands, waiting for direction from the Legislature.

He said he plans to implement the cuts in departments beginning in August. The Legislature could overturn those cuts when it reconvenes in January, but we suspect lawmakers will be happy that the governor has acted as he had, sparing them even more painful decisions.

More cuts may be necessary if the economy doesn’t begin to turn around soon. And it would have been better if the Legislature had mandated cuts in state spending earlier this year. But

Ritter is on the right track with the cuts he announced last week.


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