Rep. Hamner On Budget Issues At The Statehouse This Session
Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillion, is the chair of the state Joint Budget Committee this session. She’s also the vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee. The Western Slope lawmaker recently spoke to KVNF about what big budget issues will be debated at the capitol this session.
Interview Highlights With Millie Hamner
On The Hospital Provider Fee
"The hospital provider fee is a fee that’s assessed to every hospital bed in all of our hospitals. And, we capture those dollars in the state budget and then turn around and leverage more federal funding and then send all of the dollars right back to the hospitals. It can be argued, and I’m on this side of the argument, that it should never have been intended to count towards the TABOR revenue cap because it’s artificially inflating the budget and escalating the pace at which we’re hitting that revenue cap."
On Proposed Cuts To Education Funding
"In the Governor’s budget, he’s recommending a reduction in higher education funding of $20 million. Personally, I think that’s going in the wrong direction. I think we need to do a better job of investing in our students graduating from our high schools and attending our Colorado universities. The other reduction he has proposed is an increase in the negative factor, defunding K-12 education."
On The Impact To Students If Education Funding Is Cut
"The negative factor only applies to K-12 schools. The possible impact to higher education would be an increase in tuition and fees. I would argue that would take Colorado in the wrong direction. The impact for K-12 if we can’t fully fund the school finance formula, the way that Coloradans envisioned when it was passed in the late 1980’s, is that schools have a harder and harder time of keeping up with inflation, growing numbers of students, and greater needs that some students are bringing to school with them."