The Impact of Denver's Budget Cuts

November 2 2009, 10:20 AM

Last week, Governor Bill Ritter detailed a plan to cut millions of dollars from the state's cash-strapped budget, including reductions to higher education and Medicaid. Now it's Denver's turn, as Mayor John Hickenlooper aims to close a $160 million deficit in the general fund in the midst of other financial declines. The worst news is November 13 will mark the last day on the job for more than 170 city employees, reports The Denver Post. The city workers who still have jobs will take five days of unpaid furlough next year and will be asked to contribute more to their pensions and health insurance. There won't be any pay raises either. Councilman Doug Linkhart says the biggest impact is to the Department of Human Services, which will lose more than 80 people who provide services such as protecting abused children and helping the unemployed get food stamps. Sheriff's deputies, meanwhile, have delayed their pay increases of 4.5 percent to help the city save $2.5 million, according to a separate Post story. But Colorado could soon begin to emerge from the scary financial woods. The national economy grew last quarter for the first time in more than a year, and local experts cited by the Denver Daily News are cautiously optimistic. Meanwhile, Peggy Noonan at The Wall Street Journal opines that the biggest threats to the economy right now aren't deficits or government spending, but rather disheartened people, particularly business owners.