Thank you to all who were able to attend my Town Hall Meeting on February 7th. Our speakers were very engaging and informative, and fielded many thoughtful questions from the audience. If you could not make it to the meeting, below is a quick summary of the presentation.
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February Town Hall – Summary

Brendon Hanlon – Budget Director, City and County of Denver

The City of Denver established the Structural Financial Task Force to tackle the “structural gap” between revenue growth (3.37% growth per year) and proportionally larger expenditure growth (4.47% growth per year). The Task Force reviewed 60 proposals with the goal of offering a menu of recommendations that address expenditures and revenue, and achieve long-term fiscal stability. Expenditure recommendations include: a cap on wage increases for the city’s uniformed officers and regular employees, furloughs, no more overtime in pension calculations, higher employee contributions to the pension plan, and a self-funded city health insurance plan.

Revenue proposals include: completely “de-bruce” the city’s tax structure; dedicate mill levies for parks and libraries; new trash and parking fees; new sales taxes on services, internet sales, cigarettes, medical marijuana; as well as corporate sponsorships of specific city venues. More information at: Denver Structural Financial Task Force

Henry Sobanet – Director, Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting

Our state budget has been challenged by the recent economic recession. State spending on Medicaid has grown at an alarming rate – a 25.2% increase from Fiscal Year 2007/8 to 2012/13. The gradual transfer of education funding from the local to state level has placed another significant strain on the state budget.

Mr. Sobanet outlined the LEAN Program (developed by Toyota) and the SMART Act which aim to improve the efficiency of government and thereby avoid cuts in essential services. The SMART Act requires all departments under the governor to improve efficiency by drafting strategic plans.

James Griesemer – Dean Emeritus and Director, DU Strategic Issues Program

The University of Denver’s 2010-2011 Strategic Issues Panel focused on ways to address the complex fiscal challenges facing Colorado state government. A panel of 20 members came to consensus on recommendations for the budget, education, Medicaid, transportation, and constitutional amendments. The recommendations are driven by these basic principles: -state government must communicate the value of state services; -dedicated revenue sources should be linked to specific areas of service; -public subsidies should be disclosed in a service area; -private and non-profit organizations should provide public services when appropriate; -use a market approach to public resources by spending on individuals rather than institutions; -fully fund state programs, avoid unfunded mandates and adopt multi-year budgeting. More information at: www.du.edu/issues