Economic leader warns of drastic budget cuts at Steamboat Economic Summit | SteamboatToday.com

Economic leader warns of drastic budget cuts at Steamboat Economic Summit

Don Marostica says state tourism funds could be at risk

Mike Lawrence

Don Marostica, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, kicks off Economic Summit 2010 on Wednesday evening at The Steamboat Grand. Marostica’s talk focused on the state’s budget and employment patterns and what municipalities are doing to retain and expand companies.





Don Marostica, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, kicks off Economic Summit 2010 on Wednesday evening at The Steamboat Grand. Marostica's talk focused on the state's budget and employment patterns and what municipalities are doing to retain and expand companies.
Matt Stensland

If you go

What: Economic Summit 2010, "A New Decade: Emerging from Recession in a Changed Environment"

When: Events resume at 8:30 a.m. today with remarks from Randy Rudasics, chairman of the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council; Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts; and Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush.

Where: The Steamboat Grand

For more

For more coverage of Economic Summit events, see Friday's Steamboat Today and Sunday's Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Follow-up event

Groups including Colorado's Small Business Development Center Advisory Board and Gov. Bill Ritter's Small Business Advisory Council are hosting a free meeting from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday at The Steamboat Grand to discuss solutions for barriers to small business. E-mail lara.henneman@sta… before noon today to RSVP.

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— Preserving millions of dollars in state tourism funds that fuel Steamboat's resort economy will require a very tough battle in 2011 as Colorado's next governor will be forced to make severe budget cuts immediately upon taking office, a state economic leader said Wednesday.

Don Marostica, executive director of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, kicked off Economic Summit 2010 at The Steamboat Grand on Wednesday night with wide-ranging comments about global and national economies. But he focused much of his remarks on Colorado's dire budget situation, a topic he's familiar with as a former member of the state's Joint Budget Committee.

During the past decade or so, Colorado has seen an 87 percent rise in statewide Medicaid recipients, a 35 percent increase in statewide prison populations and overall population growth from about 4.3 million in 2000 to more than 5 million as of July 2009. That all occurred while the state's budget decreased about 0.8 percent, Marostica said.

"You libertarians that are here tonight, we are shrinking government," said Marostica, a Republican.

He said Colorado's government is not growing according to its population and that the impacts increasingly are felt in drastic budget cuts spurred by the recession.

The state runs on a budget of about $18 billion, Marostica said, and cut about $1.7 billion in 2008-09, about $1.3 billion in 2009-10 and about $1.1 billion in 2010-11. He said next year, state legislators and Colorado's new governor could have to cut about $2.2 billion.

"I have no idea why anybody would want to be the next governor," he said.

That scenario could make it very tough to preserve annual tourism funding of about $15 million to $20 million. Estab­lishing those funds was a legislative accomplishment often touted by retired state Sen. Jack Taylor, of Steamboat Springs, and current state Sen. Al White, of Hayden, both Republicans.

Marostica said only Colo­rado's Division of Housing brings a better return on investment than tourism funds.

"Tourism is extremely, ex­­tremely important for the state of Colorado, so we've got to save those dollars," he said.

Andy Wirth, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., said he already is speaking with Marostica and state legislators about the issue.

"We think the battle to preserve those funds has just begun," Wirth said Wednesday, also citing the potential return on investment. "The logic and rationale is on our side to win that battle."

Economic Summit 2010, titled "A New Decade: Emerging from Recession in a Changed Environment," continues today at The Grand and is presented by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Marostica's opening remarks reflected the summit's title.

He called the recession a "major transforming event" that young people one day will tell their children about. He said corporations are changing their staff structure by cutting high-salaried middle management jobs that won't return; the retiring of baby boomers throughout the next decade will create a massive worker shortage across the U.S.; and the rise of Brazil, China and India is increasingly evident.

"Brazil put more money into Haiti than the U.S.," he said, adding that Brazil's earthquake relief contributions this year exceeded America's by about $2 billion.

Marostica said the recession's impacts continue to unfold.

"We're going through a worldwide economy change, and it's not over."

If you go

What: Economic Summit 2010, “A New Decade: Emerging from Recession in a Changed Environment”

When: Events resume at 8:30 a.m. today with remarks from Randy Rudasics, chairman of the Steamboat Springs Economic Development Council; Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts; and Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush.

Where: The Steamboat Grand

Online

Visit http://www.steamboatchamber.com/ecosummit for a full schedule, information about speakers and registration information.

For more

For more coverage of Economic Summit events, see Friday’s Steamboat Today and Sunday’s Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Follow-up event

Groups including Colorado’s Small Business Development Center Advisory Board and Gov. Bill Ritter’s Small Business Advisory Council are hosting a free meeting from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday at The Steamboat Grand to discuss solutions for barriers to small business. E-mail lara.henneman@sta… before noon today to RSVP.

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