State budget talk Wednesday

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— With a ballooning deficit, no proposed solutions to the budget crisis on the November ballot and the strictest limits on taxation in the country, Colorado faces a stiff challenge in funding social services.

The current budget crisis and its implications will be the subject of an informal, nonpartisan lecture presented Wednesday by Cary Kennedy. Kennedy worked in former governor Roy Romer's budget office for three years and is now the fiscal analyst for the Colorado Children's Campaign. Kennedy's lecture, entitled "The state budget crisis: Where we are and where we might be" is from noon to 2 p.m. at the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel.

"It's an educational presentation," Kennedy said. "This is an introduction and sort of an overview of the Colorado Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and its impact on services, particularly for children."

The lecture is not limited to those with a background or understanding of finance, but it is a presentation accessible to all.

"Cary Kennedy is very good at explaining it to people that don't have budget backgrounds. She explains it in terms so that you can understand it, because it is a complicated issue," said Renee Donahue, the early childhood supervisor for Routt County and the event's organizer.

The issue is especially complex in Colorado, Kennedy said, because of three amendments to the state constitution that affect collection and allocation of taxes -- the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights (TABOR), Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment.

"Under (the amendments), all of the cuts the state had to make during the economic downturn have to become permanent, and (the state has) to start returning money to taxpayers," she said.

It is these limits that will result in $406 million being returned to taxpayers and $215 million cut from state programs starting next January in order to balance the budget, Kennedy said.

While legislators and citizens' groups have discussed possible solutions to the crisis, no action has been taken.

"There were a lot of solutions proposed for the 2004 ballot ... now there isn't agreement on any particular solution," Kennedy said. "There won't be anything on the ballot this November."

The lecture will focus on the budget crisis itself, TABOR, Amendment 23, the Gallagher Amendment and proposed solutions to the problem.

Donahue said that 30 out of 80 slots had been filled for the event by "a wide variety of folks."

Tickets are $6.25 and can be purchased at the door or by calling 870-5270.

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