For Immediate ReleaseMarch 19, 2021
State Budget Should Prioritize Investment in the People Providing Critical Public Services
With Quarterly Forecast’s Positive Outlook, State Employees Urge Budget Writers to Begin to Address Decades of Underinvestment in Critical Services
(Pueblo, CO) – Colorado WINS Executive Director Hilary Glasgow issued the following statement after the quarterly budget forecast release:
“It’s a relief to hear that Colorado’s economy is doing better than predicted and that our state revenues did not take as great of a hit as we expected. But recovery is a long way off for many people, including state employees who continue to tirelessly address the consequences of the pandemic.
“The pandemic brought to light inadequacies and inherent inequality in our systems, and it’s up to our state’s budget writers to prioritize the things that matter: high quality government services delivered by people whose work keeps our communities healthy and safe. Demand for these services is higher than ever. Yet last year, budget writers cut more than $3 billion preparing for economic devastation as a result of the pandemic. That was on top of decades of underfunding and cuts to state services that came as a result of tax cuts and handouts to corporations and the wealthy.
“Colorado’s state workforce is already 23 percent smaller than it was in 2010, if population growth is taken into account. That’s why so many programs Coloradans rely on are understaffed and overwhelmed. For example, more and more Coloradans facing eviction are seeking rental assistance, but a backlog of applications means people are waiting as much as eight weeks for rental assistance.
“Even before the pandemic, our state already had a long-standing tax problem, thanks to the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), which passed in 1992 and established one of the strictest revenue and spending limits in the nation. This means critical services in Colorado have been woefully underfunded for decades, despite the state’s population boom.
“This year, legislators are hoping our state budget can go back to normal. But that ‘normal’ short-changed working people long before the pandemic. Instead, we need to respect, protect, and pay the people who kept Colorado running through this crisis, by ensuring a significant investment from the state’s general fund and dedicating money from the federal stimulus package to support public services Coloradans need and the public employees providing them.
“What a year ago seemed unsurmountable — making progress toward beating this virus and recovering from the recession — has been accomplished with the help of dedicated public employees who put themselves and their families at risk to create stronger communities for all Coloradans. I hope legislators put working families first in our budget, because the people who keep our communities running should be valued and their work should be funded.”
Colorado WINS is the union representing more than 28,000 classified state employees who work to ensure our quality of life in communities across the state and provide essential services to more than 5.6 million Coloradans.