Staff Report MONTROSE—(February 6) Last year, the State of Colorado gathered concerned citizens and community leaders from across the state—including here in Montrose– in a series of collaborative meetings designed to gather input about some of the most crucial issues affecting our collective future. In November 2012, To Be Determined (TBD) Colorado released its final report, which included feedback on education, health, the state budget, workforce and constitution and transportation. The core finding of the TBD Colorado initiative and report was that Colorado’s current path is not sustainable without major fiscal and constitutional reforms.

Last week, TBD Colorado releases an update citing the significant actions taken toward this goal prior to the 2013 legislative session. With regard to education, Governor Hickenlooper has requested an increase of $20 million for early childhood education, which is enough to provide preschool education for 6,500 low income children; a discussion is underway that would link funding for education to clear outcomes, thus holding teachers and students accountable for achieving success; Governor Hickenlooper’s State of the State address that changes to school finance must be accomplished in light the core TBD finding (above).

Colorado’s physical health was also addressed, as the Dept. of Healthcare Policy and Finance is working to expand home and community-based services and increase the use of managed care within Medicaid, as suggested by TBD participants. Governor Hickenlooper has created an Office of Community Living to support Colorado residents who are elderly or disabled but who want to maintain community involvement. Hickenlooper has also expressed his support for Colorado’s participation in the Medicaid expansion allowed by the Affordable Care Act, the cost of which is to be offset by cost containment. This expansion will provide health care coverage to more than 50,000 low income Coloradoans. Expect the Governor to announce a statewide fitness initiative based on TBD Colorado findings and community feedback.

The state’s budget will be impacted not only by the TBD Colorado findings, but by actions taken with regard to education and transportation. Private organizations will be part of the conversation, as the executive and legislative branches struggle to address long term issues concerning revenues and expenditures.

The state’s employees may be eligible for financial incentives, if the Governor’s 2013-2014 budgetary request to fund merit pay systems and reward performance in the state workforce is granted. And Referendum S’s approval means that job candidates for state jobs no longer have to reside in Colorado, that the current system will switch from a competitive to a comparative one, that the number of finalists permitted for state jobs will increase, and that regulations concerning temporary employment will also increase.

Funding and refinancing plans are being developed collaboratively by transportation experts in both public and private sectors. And finally, the Governor’s office continues to work with a number of private sector reform efforts and is considering the implementation of a periodic review of Colorado’s constitution with recommendations to voters on needed changes.