Colo. budget would open prison, end scholarships

April 9, 2010
Denver, CO

State senators have given initial backing to a proposed $18.2 billion budget for next year.

The Senate voted Thursday evening to support the budget, which has already passed the House. It faces another vote Friday.

Some Democrats tried but failed to block $9.4 million from being spent to open a solitary confinement unit at the Colorado State Penitentiary. They wanted the money for treatment for things such as mental illness and substance abuse.

The corrections department says the unit is needed to house violent inmates now being held in lower-security prisons and that treatment programs won’t be effective if violence continues in those prisons.

The budget would also drain a $45.2 million trust fund that provides low-income students with scholarships. Under an amendment passed by the Senate, that money would only be tapped as a last resort at the end of the fiscal year.

High school juniors and seniors who’ve already signed up would be funded, but no future students would be helped.

Republicans are pushing for deeper cuts to get ready for the following year. More cuts are possible then because stimulus money that has propped up spending during the recession will be gone.

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