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State budget includes cuts to hospitals, transportation and education

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The Joint Budget Committee has finalized the $26.8 billion state budget bill. House Democrats note that hospitals will lose $264 million in revenue from the hospital provider fee — a mix of money paid by hospitals and federal matching funds intended to offset the costs of uncompensated care. Republicans resisted efforts for the past couple years to remove the fees from the state budget, protecting the funds from the ratchet-down effect of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which limits state budget growth, and allowing state money to go to other priorities.

Other areas seeing hits are the state transportation fund ($110 million) and education funding ($48 million). Transportation could be funded at a higher level should a plan to ask voters for a sales tax increase to fund transportation capital bonds be approved. Per-pupil funding, meanwhile, is increasing, just not at the level dictated by Amendment 23, passed in 2000. The Legislature's repeated failures to fund K-12 schools according to 23's formula has led to a shortfall — known as the "negative factor" — that will come to $879 million this year.

Both TABOR and the Gallagher Amendment, which limit state revenues, have forced the state to tighten its belt in good economic times.

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