Friday, February 22, 2008



Gov. Bill Ritter's Budget Office this week submitted several change requests to the legislature's Joint Budget Committee, seeking funds from the FY07-08 and FY08-09 budgets for affordable housing, developmental-disability services, elections and witness protection.


Affordable Housing: This request is for $3 million over the FY07-08 and FY08-09 budget cycles to fund the Colorado Affordable Housing Construction Grants and Loans program. Funds will be distributed through grants by the State Housing Board to help address affordable housing needs in the areas of workforce, senior, and homeless housing. Potential projects include the 72-unit Arbor Vista Apartments in Grand Junction. Because of high demand for workforce rental housing, Mesa County is experiencing a record low vacancy rate of 3.5 percent. Another potential project: the 110-unit Fairweather Landings Senior Apartments complex in Parker.
Developmental Disabilities: This FY08-09 request is for $6.6 million to serve the developmentally disabled and help reduce a waiting list of approximately 7,000 people. Funds would pay for housing, comprehensive supportive-living care, family-support services, and other adult and child community programs. This would bring the total request for developmental disabilities funding in FY08-09 to $14.9 million.
Gov. Ritter praised the efforts of the legislature's developmental disabilities interim committee, which included Sen. Moe Keller and Rep. Bob Gardner, for its work on this issue over the summer.
"One of the most basic obligations of government is to provide services to our most vulnerable residents," Sen. Keller said. "With this additional funding, we will be able to serve almost 600 more Coloradans with developmental disabilities."
"This has been one of our legislative priorities and I am pleased that our work to find additional funding for the developmentally disabled has been fruitful," Rep. Gardner said. "We are making an important commitment to this community."   
Elections: This request is for $3.5 million in FY07-08. Funds would be distributed to counties to help defray costs associated with updating election equipment and paying for other costs associated with a paper-ballot election, following the December decertification of electronic-voting equipment by the Secretary of State. 
Witness Protection: The Department of Public Safety is seeking an additional $100,000 to meet expected needs in Witness Protection. The fund covers costs of temporary hosing, food, travel and security for witnesses as requested by local or state prosecutors. The number of witnesses protected in 2007-08 is on track to exceed the number protected in FY 2006-07 by more than 35 percent. During calendar year 2007, the Board provided funds to protect a total of 73 witnesses, potential witnesses, family members or close associates. To date during FY07-08, the Board has provided funds to protect a total of 66 people.