A letter to the membership from Julie Reiskin, ED.
We wanted to let you know we are watching the budget process carefully and urge calm and attention as the process plays out. There are some very scary cuts proposed, but until we know the state revenue forecast next week and learn if the federal government is going to help, we do not know the true extent of the problem. We also do not know if the legislature will use the emergency provision in the taxpayer bill of rights (TABOR) that allows them to impose a tax to help us as a state. They would need 2/3 of the legislature to agree to do this and can do it in various ways that could result in a little more revenue or a lot more revenue.
Even if they can increase the taxes and we get help from the federal government, we will still have to take SOME cuts, but they will not be as devastating as they will be if neither thing happens. We cannot cut our way out of this, but we cannot expect to be exempt from cuts either. So far, for the most part, budgets for our programs are not being cut; they are just not getting increases.
We have people listening to the Budget Committee always, and we are impressed with how thoughtful they are being. They are working very hard at doing the best they can. We urge people to ask us if you have concerns. There is some wrong information going out and some confusing information as the media and others try to digest all of the news coming out rapidly.
An example of wrong information: In the Colorado Sun yesterday, it said that the $1.5 million was cut from a nursing home transition program. No cuts like this have happened. Instead, the projected reduction is for another program with “transition” in its name, which has not started yet.
An example of confusing information: The JBC decided not to run the bill for the Rural Interpreting Services Project or RISP. The funding for the program will still happen; it just won’t be put into the law this year. Because the legislature only has so much time, RISP can continue as a pilot for one more year without causing harm. Some people might read where they removed this bill and think that meant they removed the program.
So we ask for your calm and to check with us before you spread anything on social media that alarms people. We are working in coalition with others to look at the budget issues as a whole. We will immediately sound the alarm bill if we see concrete proposals that affect the life or liberty of people with disabilities. We are deeply saddened and angry about many cuts, but understand the legislature has few choices given our state financial situation. We are in regular communication with the Polis/Primavera administration, state agencies, and the JBC members, so unless the revenue forecast next week is even worse than expected, there should not be any unforeseen cuts coming. We are working hard to increase revenue rather than have to cut benefits.
Please see and share our website on disability-specific issues related to COVID 19 in Colorado.
Julie Reiskin, Executive Director