Hickenlooper discusses Colorado budget with lawmakers

12:40 PM, Nov 17, 2011   |    comments
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Members of Colorado's joint budget committee got their first chance to pepper the Governor with questions about his proposal.

Though the proposed budget for next year is larger than this year's, the state has higher costs for mandatory spending due to caseload growth in government services.

That means Hickenlooper's budget does make cuts in some areas, including education which faces a $174 million total cut between K-12 and higher education.

That amounts to a little more than a 2 percent cut, which is significant, though smaller than the reductions made last time around.

Gov. Hickenlooper faces some controversy over his decision not to reinstate Colorado's Senior Homestead Exemption, which provides a property tax break for senior citizens.

The exemption was scheduled to go back into effect next year, at a cost of nearly $100 million to the state.

The budget proposal does keep the homestead exemption for disabled veterans, and it includes $9.5 million in property tax assistance for low-income seniors.

"Even in a period of recovery we need to protect the vulnerable," Hickenlooper said.

One of the biggest drags on the state budget is the rise in Medicaid enrollment, which costs Colorado $281 million.

Hickenlooper defended his decision not to curb Medicaid costs by reducing payments to doctors, saying that it would not be "appropriate" to do.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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