State employees held harmless in worst budget in years

With last week’s passage of the Colorado state budget, state employees will maintain wage gains made over the past three years and see no increase in their health insurance premiums.

In a year when nearly every budget item faced cuts, Colorado WINS members were able to stave off any reductions to the paychecks of their coworkers. 

In fact, we were able to hold the line on several proposals, including: full funding for Health/Life/Dental premiums, full funding for the state’s PERA contributions and keep $1 million in funding for staffing at the Dept. of Youth Corrections. 

As I’ve explained in previous emails, although state workers did not receive a raise this year, lack of cuts means that state workers have fared fairly well in a bleak budget year threatened by mandatory TABOR spending.

On a brighter note, although there was no state-issued raise this year, members organized to put pressure on University of Colorado Boulder administration and as a result nearly 500 low-wage CU-Boulder employees received a raise in February. So even in years when the state budget is bleak, members who organize and work together can still achieve wage victories.

 

Other news from the Capitol

While some members of the legislature threatened to cut nearly 100 positions from the state payroll by dismantling the Clean Air program, we successfully lobbied to keep the program and the positions fully funded.

One of the last amendments to make it into the budget gave $3 million to for-profit prison operator Corrections Corporation of America. Colorado WINS has long been opposed to our state doing business with a corporation that profits from incarceration. Now, in addition to our continued moral objections, we have released a statement denouncing the last minute bailout of CCA.

Below is the full statement:

“The for-profit prison industry is built on exploitation. They exploit our criminal justice system, they exploit their workers, they exploit the communities in which their facilities are located and they exploit Colorado taxpayers.

Unlike our state correctional facilities and professional correctional officers, for-profit prisons are not accountable to taxpayers. And they do not provide stable, community-building jobs – these are low-wage, low-security, high-turnover positions.

Colorado WINS has long stood publicly against the for-profit prison industry. This latest bailout is just one more example of why Colorado should extricate ourselves from this predatory and morally corrupt industry.”

We are still waiting to see what will happen with HB 16-1420, which deals with the Hospital Provider Fee. This bill has been a priority for Colorado WINS and we may need to take action to ensure this bill passes before the session ends next month.

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