Denver – Gov. Bill Ritter has reacted to the financial crisis in by ordering a delay on state-funded capital construction projects and a freeze on hiring new employees.
The actions follow a report from the nonpartisan Legislative Council, which projected a shortfall of $100 million in the state budget. According to the Denver Business Journal, Ritter requested that colleges and state agencies delay the start of new construction on state-funded projects until Jan. 31, 2009, saving $50 million. The governor also ordered the delay of a $35-million grant program to build full-day kindergartens around the state. No grants have yet been awarded, so no specific projects will be delayed as a result.
Additionally, Ritter asked to delay issuance of grants for full-day kindergarten, saving up to $35 million.
The hiring freeze became effective Oct. 1. Ritter said he didn't know how much the state would save by delaying new government hires or how many positions would be affected.
Ritter also noted the freezes could be repealed if necessary, and that he still has faith in the state's economic-development efforts and its diverse economy.
At the University of Colorado, officials said Ritter's order could delay three construction projects, including two on the Boulder campus.
The freeze could affect a $9.4-million renovation of the Ketchum Arts and Sciences Building, which was scheduled to be completed by June 2009. Also, the state had dedicated $14.1 million for a $15.7-million renovation at the Ekeley Sciences Building that was expected to be finished by July 2010.
The other CU project that could be frozen is a science and engineering building on the Colorado Springs campus.