President's Campus Communication 8/19/09

Dear Colleagues,

You may have seen news reports about the recommendations Gov. Ritter made yesterday for balancing the state’s FY09-10 budget. As we anticipated, there will be an additional reduction to the state higher education budget, which will be backfilled with temporary funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Governor’s office has provided information about how budget reductions may affect state employees and asked us to share it with our classified staff. The communication is below.

To prevent any confusion, I would like to remind you that higher education institutions are different from other state agencies, particularly as related to the classified personnel system. The communication from the Governor’s office includes the mention of mandatory furloughs and layoff decisions that affect government employees. These do not apply to UNC employees.

Sincerely,

Kay Norton

 

From: state_employees-bounces@mailman.state.co.us [mailto:state_employees-bounces@mailman.state.co.us] On Behalf Of Email to ALL State Employees

Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 12:35 PM

To: Email to ALL State Employees

Subject: [BULK] Sent on Behalf of Jim Carpenter, Chief of Staff for Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.: Message to State Employees Regarding the FY10 Budget

Importance: Low

 

Hello All,

 

Today, Governor Ritter addressed the JBC and the media, outlining the steps he is taking in order to comply with our constitutional requirement to balance the budget for fiscal year 09-10.  Obviously, as state employees, the decisions made by the Governor impact all of us.  I want to outline some of those decisions but, before doing so, it is important to emphasize a few points.  Much of the focus is going to be on what has been cut.  This is natural.  However, as you look at the decisions made to balance the budget, think about those things that have not been cut.  The Governor has not taken the easy path and made across-the-board cuts.  Reductions have been considerate, thought out and balanced against the need to preserve the safety net, to protect the most vulnerable among us, and to make sure we maintain important investments in people and infrastructure that will help us emerge more quickly and stronger from these tough economic times.  Even with the current reductions, support services for the mentally ill, and the developmentally disabled as well as higher education funding are higher now than they were two and one-half years ago. 

 

This round of budget cuts is just the latest in the process that began over a year ago; we have already balanced the budget against a $1.5B shortfall.  To get to this point we have made one-time transfers, utilized the state’s reserve fund, cut spending and reduced programs.  What the State is doing is no different than what many families and many companies have had to do in this recession.  We have looked at spending and decided what could be reduced.  The decisions are neither easy nor enjoyable, but they must be made.  State employees are already making do without pay raises, taking mandatory furloughs and in many cases picking up additional work to cover for vacant positions. 

 

Even with these actions, the June forecast showed an additional shortfall of $380M this year.  (Actual revenues came in stronger than expected so the shortfall is closer to $320 million.) 

 

Spending cannot be reduced this much without impacting people and services, including state employees. Because of Amendment 23, K-12 education – which makes up 43% of the General Fund – is off-limits to cuts in FY09-10, this leaves health care, human services, corrections and higher education to take the bulk of budget reductions.

 

Fortunately, the Recovery Act has allowed us to backfill cuts in areas such as Medicaid and higher education – allowing us to stay at the highest level of funding for colleges and universities in our state’s history.  The ARRA funds also helped with unemployment benefits; transportation, water, energy and other infrastructure; and many other important functions.

 

Overall, the budget balancing plan calls for eliminating about 260 FTEs; this is in addition to FTEs left vacant as a result of the hiring freeze.  The budget calls for closing human service programs in Fort Logan and in Grand Junction – programs that can be better and more cost-effectively delivered by community and private providers.  The plan also calls for changes in corrections and parole services – changes that are based in evidence, in study and in experience.  There are over 100 separate action items in the Governor’s plan.  Executive directors and HR directors will be going over details in each agency in the coming days and weeks, making sure that these layoffs are managed as well as possible, under the circumstances, and within the state personnel rules.

 

The Governor understands that much is asked every day of state employees, both in terms of delivering high levels of service to the taxpayers with fewer resources, and in terms of sacrificing pay and benefit increases, and taking furlough days.

 

I wish I could say that there will be no further budget cuts, but I can’t.  While there are hopeful national economic signs, and Colorado seems better situated than most states to see a quicker turnaround, state revenues continue to be weak and Medicaid, corrections and other mandated costs continue to rise.  It is likely that there are more tough choices to make in the months ahead.  I do promise that we will continue to keep you informed.  We will continue to review the revenue forecasts and adjust the budget based on projected revenues and we will continue to take the actions that will create jobs of the future, keep building the New Energy Economy and create the best education system in the country.

 

Thank you for all that you do for the citizens of Colorado.

 

Jim Carpenter

Chief of Staff

Governor Bill Ritter, Jr.