Jan 25

Potential State Budget Cuts Could Affect Water Funding

From a CGWA release by Ralf Topper

A recent release from the Colorado Ground-Water Association (Ralf Topper) detailed a list of potential actions considered by the Colorado Joint Budget Committee (JBC) on January 25, 2011 to balance the FY 2010-11 and FY 2011-12 budgets.  These potential actions could affect the State agencies that deal with water resources, and indirectly could limit funding and resources available to address the State’s water issues.

Here is the release from the Colorado Ground-Water Association:

On January 25, 2011, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) staff prepared two lists of potential actions to balance the FY 2010-11 and the FY 2011-12 budgets, (http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/jbc/options01-25-11.pdf). JBC staff are not recommending that the JBC take these actions, but listing in and of itself signifies potential future action. Some of these potential actions will significantly impact state agencies that our members, their employers, and clients routinely rely upon.

On January 5th the JBC voted to use the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budget (OSPB) December 2010 forecast and the 4% reserve requirement to produce a General Fund revenue forecast. The OSPB shortfall for this current fiscal year FY2010-11 is $261.8 million, and the shortfall for FY 2011-12 is $450.6 million. The Legislative Council Staff estimate that next year’s shortfall (beginning July 1, 2011) may exceed $800 million.

Potential actions within the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) include:

Eliminating the Colorado Geological Survey’s severance tax funding of $2.4 million. THIS IS A WHOLE PROGRAM CUT AND WOULD ELIMINATE THE DIVISION!

Eliminate the Colorado Water Conservation Board severance tax funding of $1.3 million. This funding supports short-term projects and grant requests including: groundwater studies, water conservation facilities, water infrastructure development, flood protection projects, etc.

Eliminate $1.4 million of general funding from the State Engineer’s Office used for programs and implement a water administration fee to cover the lost funding.

Eliminate $2.5 million of general funding from the State Engineer’s Office used for the groundwater management program and increase fees for well permitting applications, substitute water supply plans, and dam design review.

Eliminating the Oil & Gas Conservation Commissions severance tax appropriation of $3.2 million and replace the lost funds with an industry mill levy.

Cuts are also proposed for State Parks, Division of Wildlife, and Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety.

We urge you to please contact members of the Joint Budget Committee and your legislative representatives to voice your opposition of reallocating severance tax funds from divisions within DNR and the elimination of the Colorado Geological Survey.

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