Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday unveiled a budget plan that calls on retirees and public employees to bear the brunt of looming changes to the state pension fund, arguing that taxpayers have already contributed enough to the retirement system in recent years.
The $28.7 billion spending road map — a 3.6 percent increase over this year — also calls for a 3 percent pay hike for most state employees, a sizable boost to higher education spending aimed at reining in tuition costs, and for socking away more money in the state’s reserves, which lawmakers have been dipping into for years to make ends meet.
First elected in 2010, the term-limited Hickenlooper’s time in office will come to a close at the beginning of 2019. Already, he’s facing an exodus of Cabinet members — but earlier this week he pledged to finish his time in office on a high note.
“I want to make sure that we’ve got a strong team, all hands on deck. We’re going to go out there and knock it out of the park,” Hickenlooper said. “We’re going to get a ton of stuff done in this last year.”
State lawmakers are under no obligation to adopt the governor’s annual budget blueprint, but the document sets the tone for what he’d like to get done as his time in office draws to an end.