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At yesterday's press conference discussing the need to make up for an additional $240 million shortfall in 2009-2010 state revenue, Governor Bill Ritter immediately emphasized fiscal caution. "As is our practice," he said, "we will be balancing our budget with the more conservative of the forecasts." That's a shot across the bow of any potential rival who might consider charging Ritter with gussying up data for political purposes -- although such a prospect seems unlikely given how dour the latest numbers appear. Of course, Republicans will still blame him for whatever happens, as indicated by a comment on a ColoradoPols item arguing for a special session to deal with the coming cuts, which lists Ritter fourth on a list of the worst governors in the U.S., a slot behind Pennsylvania's Ed Rendell and just ahead of California's Arnold Schwarzenegger. Truth is, if a GOP guv was in office right now, he or she would be in precisely the same leaky boat. Still, for Ritter to remain in office after the 2010 balloting, he's got to convince moderate voters who helped him win election in the first place that he's handling the economic crisis skillfully -- and conservatively.
Read Ritter's statement on the latest development below.
GOV. RITTER STATEMENT ON SEPTEMBER REVENUE FORECAST
Gov. Bill Ritter issued the following statement today regarding the September revenue forecast, which shows an additional $240 million shortfall in the current 2009-10 fiscal year because of the ongoing economic downturn:
"While the recession is forcing us to make some very difficult and painful decisions, I want to be clear: we will balance the budget just like we've been doing for the past year.
"At this point, that means closing another shortfall of $240 million. We've already closed shortfalls of $1.8 billion and reduced spending by 10.4 percent. As we've done before, we'll move quickly, thoughtfully and responsibly to once again tighten our belt and reduce spending.
"We have already begun meeting with legislative leadership and members of the JBC to review our options. We will take another look at proposals that were not implemented from the last round of budget balancing this summer. We'll talk with department heads, stakeholders and constituency groups.
"The same principles and core values that have guided us throughout this process will continue to do so: to be thoughtful, surgical and compassionate, and to minimize pain, protect the safety net and maintain investments in our future.
"But we need to be realistic. Every cut we make will cause pain. Every cut we make will hurt.
"As we make these difficult choices, we will look for new opportunities to be more efficient, more innovative, more modern and more entrepreneurial. We aren't going back to the old ways of doing businesses. We can't. So we need to do things better and be more nimble going forward.
"This is Colorado. Our economy is still in better shape than many other states. Our economic-development strategy is working. We'll get through this, and we'll get through it stronger, quicker and healthier by working together."