Colorado’s Hickenlooper Calls for School Cuts to Trim Budget Gap

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called for cuts to public schools and universities to help close a $500 million gap in the $20 billion fiscal year 2013 state budget.

In his second budget since being sworn in 10 months ago as Colorado’s 42nd governor, Hickenlooper, a 59-year-old Democrat, also proposed eliminating tax breaks for seniors and new expenditures to fix roads. He didn’t order closures of state buildings or parks or unpaid time off for public employees.

Colorado joined 11 states that previously forecast deficits in fiscal 2013 totaling $15.9 billion, according to a September report by the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures. The general-fund budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2012, not including federal spending, is $7.3 billion, a 3.2 percent increase from the prior year.

In Colorado, the budget gap is driven largely by an 11.1-percent increase in Medicaid costs and a 3.7-percent jump in prison expenditures, said Henry Sobanet, director of the governor’s Planning and Budgeting Office, in a briefing yesterday.

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