The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the FY21 budget process. In a normal year, the General Assembly convenes in January and adjourns in May. During this time, the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee (JBC) reviews state agency budget submissions, holds briefings and hearings to gather additional information, and sets agency budgets, which then move to the General Assembly for final approval.

We submitted our budget November 1, 2019, well before anyone knew a pandemic was going to hit and have a huge negative impact on the economy. Based on our workload study and other resource needs, we submitted a budget request for $117,397, 730 and 962.7 full-time employees (FTE).

On May 12, 2020, updated quarterly economic and revenue forecasts for Colorado projected a $3.3 billion shortfall for FY 2020-21 state budget. Because the Colorado Constitution mandates a balanced state budget, the JBC was tasked with making significant revisions to the original budget.

The JBC approached this issue in a couple of ways. First, the JBC eliminated the three percent employee pay increase that had previously been approved for all state employees which was approximately a $2.4 million reduction to our budget. Next, at the request of JBC staff, we reviewed our FY21 budget request and offered $3.8 million in reductions which the JBC accepted. Because the budget was still in a significant deficit, the JBC ultimately imposed a five percent reduction in personal services funding (which is the funding used to pay employee salary and benefits) on all state agencies. Since the Public Defender’s Office is primarily a personal services agency – providing representation to indigent clients accused of crimes – this five percent reduction had a huge impact reducing our budget by another $3.9 million dollars.

The net result was a $10.1 million reduction to the budget JBC originally approved for FY21. Presently, our budget for FY 2020-21 is $108,256,486 and 925.1 FTE to support an estimated 195,000 cases and proceedings. To manage the significant cuts to our budget, we have taken several measures, while minimizing the impact on the quality of service provided to our clients. These measures include a salary freeze, furloughs, vacancy savings, along with a reduction in various operating expenditures and the delay or elimination in the replacement of IT equipment and software.

For Information on the FY 2020-21 budget see the links below:

For Information on the FY 2021-22 budget see the links below:

To review actual year to date expenditures for the current fiscal year please see the State of Colorado’s Transparency Online Project Site (TOPS). This information is provided by the Colorado Operations Resource Engine (CORE).