"Colorado could see the same problems that Wisconsin is seeing," said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute, a public policy watchdog group. "The first thing Gov. Hickenlooper needs to make clear that unions will not control the budget process."
In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) proposed a budget that would cause public workers to pay more for retirement plans and more for health care. Walker says with a $3.6 billion deficit over two years, he had no choice.
That caused an estimated 25,000 protesters to fill the capitol rotunda in Madison. So many teachers showed up to protest, the school district in Madison had to cancel all classes.
Caldara says the gripes that teachers have in Colorado are unfounded even though Hickenlooper wants to reduce K-12 education funding by $332 million.
"The crocodile tears that comes down during a budget cut, 'Oh no, we'll never survive.' The Colorado budget has grown each and every year," Caldara said.
Teachers say the problem is very real.
"If we're $1,900 now below the [national] average and you add another $500 per student, our kids are losing out," said Beverly Ingle, president of the Colorado Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.
Ingle says people should stop blaming teachers and unions for the budget problems.
"I think the fact that we just have to come together to find a revenue solution for our kids," Ingle said. "It's our future."
The question is: Is it a future that will contain scenes like Wisconsin's present?
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)