For the second fiscal year in a row, Colorado lawmakers will grapple with budget problems and may even consider the sale of the publicly owned Pinnacol Assurance worker's compensation provider to help. State budget gurus are forecasting a $384 million shortfall, and while Pinnacol appears an easy target, Governor Bill Ritter says it is too early to get into the specifics, writes the Denver Business Journal. By the 2010-11 fiscal year, the state will have accumulated an $873 million shortfall, meaning cuts--or new ways to raise revenues, such as fees and taxes--are on the horizon. House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann (pictured), a Democrat from Louisville, suggests the state could close some drivers' licenses offices a few days a week or shutter a community college or two. But legislators have months to hash out possibilities before the next session begins in January. "I don't think there's any way for us to say what this impact will be," Ritter says (via The Denver Post). Read more reactions via the Journal.
Other states are struggling, too, including mighty California, which is facing a $24 billion budget gap, leaving lawmakers with the unsavory job of having to decide who is going to be hurt the most, according to The New York Times. Meanwhile, Mayor John Hickenlooper is also faced with the unenviable task of cutting $70 million from Denver's budget. Westword challenges residents to make suggestions via a city survey.