For Immediate ReleaseNovember 2, 2020
Contact: Olga Robak
State Employee Union Statement on Governor’s Budget Proposal
Pueblo, CO – In response to the Governor’s budget proposal for FY 2020/21, Colorado WINS Executive Director Hilary Glasgow issued the following statement:
“The economic downturn caused by the pandemic is hurting working people across Colorado and state employees are no different. Working behind the scenes, state employees have kept Colorado running through these crises. The pandemic has put these essential services front and center in the lives of Coloradans, but the truth is we depended upon them long before the pandemic struck and will continue to need them after.
But public employees’ response to the pandemic has been complicated by the fact that years of budget cuts have thinned staff, depleted critical equipment, created unsafe working conditions and hampered planning. Years of cuts have also caused state employee wages and benefits to fall behind, resulting in growing turnover and vacancies. Now, the need for public services is way up, but funding is significantly down. For our families and our economy to recover from this pandemic, we need to invest in public services and create good, union jobs to support those services.
For more than a decade, Colorado’s state budget has been strained by the limits of TABOR and ongoing cuts to public services, leading state employee wages to be, on average, 16.4 percent behind that of private sector workers. This has led to chronic understaffing, with more than one in five state positions vacant, even before the pandemic. The tension between increased needs created by the pandemic and Colorado’s long-standing underfunding of essential services has made it impossible to ignore the fact that right now we are ill-equipped to meet Coloradans’ needs. We must increase investment in essential services to meet communities’ needs in Colorado.
To that end, this year Colorado WINS members will focus on improving the quality of and access to state services by filling job vacancies and ensuring state employee wages and benefits are brought back in line with the market. Colorado residents are hurting gravely during the pandemic and the way to get out of this crisis is to ensure state services are available to all who need them. That means investing in creating good union jobs, so that the state can recruit more people into public service, state employees can continue to do the work they love, support their families, and provide the high quality services Coloradans depend on.
Colorado WINS members are looking forward to working with the Governor and individual departments to protect state services and ensure we are filling the vacancies that are leaving Coloradans who depend on state services vulnerable. We know what our state’s communities need better than anyone, because we serve them every day. State employees finally have a seat at the table to improve the services we provide in a lasting way–at a critical time as our state faces multiple crises.
No one is more concerned about preparedness and quality services than the public employees who are putting themselves at risk to serve our communities. To create a state where Colorado families can thrive in the future we need to make critical public services sustainable in the long run. That means corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share for public services instead of starving them by asking for corporate bailouts and tax cuts, as they have for the last several decades. That means we need to work together to demand immediate federal relief to get through the next few months and long-term federal investments that support state and local services for the future. The difficulties of 2020 have shown us that we’re all in this together — no matter who we are, where we’re from, or the color of our skin — and we must work together to invest in public services.”
Colorado Workers for Innovative and New Solutions (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. Learn more at WeMakeColoradoRun.org