How Tabor and State Budget Cuts Have Hurt Girls - August 2004

Denver Women's Commission
How Tabor and State Budget Cuts Have Hurt Girls - August 2004

The mission of the Colorado Coalition for Girls is to eliminate cultural, social, and legal barriers that marginalize girls by advocating vigorously on their behalf. In this light, we have compiled the following fact sheet in response to the reduction of girl-focused services due to state funding cuts.

Colorado’s general fund revenues fell 17% from 2001 to 2003, compared to the national average of about 4% due to the manner in which TABOR (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) restricts revenue increases. By 2003, Colorado reported the nation's 2nd largest budget shortfall relative to its budget (Colorado's Fiscal Problems Have Been Severe and are Likely to Continue, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2004). Because of TABOR's "rachet down" effect, once programs and services are cut or eliminated, there is no funding to restore them even as revenues increase. Currently Colorado is 48th in state tax collections, and 42nd in state and local taxes combined (Publication Number 03-15, Colorado Legislative Council, Nov. 2003).

What does this mean for girls in Colorado?
The impact of TABOR on Colorado’s girls can be seen in the decreases in state funding for education, health care, mental health treatment and juvenile justice programs. We are allowing our girls to grow up with sub-standard education and health care. And we will pay in the future for those who do not receive adequate mental health services and rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system.

GIRLS NEED EDUCATION
• Colorado currently ranks 50th in K-12 spending per pupil in relation to state wealth. Colorado has the 8th highest per capita income (Public Education Finances, U.S. Census, 2000/01 and Denver Post, July 8, 2004).
• Colorado ranks 47th in state tax support for higher education. Colorado also cut need-based higher education grants and work study in 2004 (Grapevine: A National Database of State Tax Support for Higher Education, Center for the Study of Education Policy, 2002).
• Since June 2002, state funding for libraries has been cut by 79% resulting in decreased access to information (www.thebell.org).
• Teen mothers need child care to finish their education. All 64 Colorado counties have restricted eligibility for subsidized child care in recent years. Various counties have lowered maximum income limits, started waiting lists, or removed school/training as an activity that qualifies for child care (www.corra.org).
• Children who participate in school breakfast programs have significantly higher standardized achievement scores than eligible non-participants. However, in Colorado funding for school breakfasts for low-income youth was eliminated in 2003 (Tufts University School of Nutrition and Colorado General Assembly, Joint Budget Committee, FY2-3-04 Staff Figure Setting, Department of Education, Carolyn Kampman, March 7, 2003).

GIRLS NEED HEALTH CARE
• Colorado has the 4th highest rate of uninsured, low-income children (Health Insurance Status of Low-Income Children and Their Parents, Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, 2003).
• Colorado ranks 40th in the percentage of all mothers receiving prenatal care, yet another issue facing teen mothers (Kids Count, Colorado Children’s Campaign, 2003).

GIRLS NEED MENTAL HEALTH/SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT
• Over 3,400 Coloradoans lost mental health services during the 2003-4 budget cuts. At the same time, Colorado’s girls are more likely to attempt suicide than girls nationally (4.8% versus 3.1%) (Healthy Colorado Women, Helene Kent, 2003).
• Teenage girls are the only population group in which the smoking rate has increased. About 5000 Colorado girls begin smoking each year. Yet tobacco prevention and cessation funding was cut from approximately $15 million per year in 2000 to $3.8 million for 2003-4. As they reach child bearing age, any alcohol, tobacco or drug use among females also puts future generations at risk (www.ctepa.org).

GIRLS IN THE JUVENILE JUSTICE SYSTEM NEED SUPPORT
• DYC closed its contract residential programs for girls including the Girls Accountability Program in Denver and Alternative Youth Adventures on the western slope. Both programs kept girls in the community and out of confinement.
• Senate Bill 94 funds, used to provide community services and programs to youth, have been reduced by 33%. Often, gender-based services are cut, despite the fact that these programs have been proven to be effective in serving this population,
because girls are a minority in the juvenile justice system.


What can you do?

If you would like to join the fight for expanding opportunities for girls, contact the Colorado Coalition for Girls at (303) 893-4363, x101.
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