Legislative Finance Committee proposes belt-tightening measures in budget proposal

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By Associated Press

Key provisions of a budget proposed Monday by the Legislative Finance Committee for the 2011 fiscal year, which starts July 1 and runs through June 30, 2011.


—$2.4 billion for public schools and other educational programs. That's about 3.5 percent lower than the combined state and federal aid for this year after cutbacks made during an October special session to deal with a budget shortfall. About $210 million in federal economic stimulus money is going to schools this year and the committee proposed $24 million for next year. However, additional state money is recommended to soften the blow to schools. The committee recommends revamping the funding formula for schools to help save money. Those changes include restricting the small schools that qualify for extra state aid.


—$799 million for the state's network of colleges and universities. That's almost 4 percent lower than this year. State aid was cut about $20 million because the committee expects schools to help pay for their operations through tuition increases next year: 6 percent for resident students and 15 percent for nonresident students at four-year schools and 15 percent for students at two-year colleges.


—$831 million for Medicaid, which is about 2 percent less than the combined state and federal economic stimulus money provided this year. The committee's proposal could force substantial cutbacks because the Human Services Department has said a large increase is needed for Medicaid in the coming year to cover growing demand for health care services during the recession. Medicaid provides health care for nearly a fourth of the state's population.


—Prohibit public employees and educators from receiving their pensions if they retire and later return to work in a government or school job. That will save $7 million that governments and schools must pay in pension contributions for those workers. Richardson also proposes to stop public employees from double-dipping.

—Eliminate 955 state employee positions, some of which may be vacant. State government has a workforce of nearly 23,000 employees.

—Cut by half the amount the state pays for the employer's share of dental and vision care benefits for public employees. That will save $10 million a year.