Jerry Kopel

Sept. 13, 2006
The Bill Owens' era. How do we judge 1999 through 2006? More numbers from  SourceBook 2006, published by Governing Magazine, a subsidiary of Congressional Quarterly. This is certainly an unbiased source. These are not gubernatorial plaudits nor criticism, simply what happened.
State Employees
These numbers won't match up with the Dept. of Personnel numbers since the State Auditor only counts classified or certified employees. Employees in higher education and seasonal or temporary employees are not listed. It appears SourceBook counts those numbers in all states.
In 1999, Colorado had 79,410 state employees. In 2006, the number was 86,800.
That's an increase of 7,410 over an eight year span, or less than a 10 percent increase from the starting year. Meanwhile, population has grown from 4,220,000 in 1999 to an estimated 4.7 to 4.8 million in 2006.
There are more state employees per population. In 1999 there were 178 employees per 10,000 population. By 2006, the number had climbed from 178 to 186.
With a population rank of around 24th, we rank 35th in employees per population, a slight drop from 33rd in 1999.
Local Government Employees
Mandates from the state legislature have  likely been a key source of the startling  rise in local government employees from 197,000 in 1999 to 234,000 in 2006.
The 37,000 increase is five times as great as the increase in state employees. The 19 percent increase over 1999 likely places us among the top five state in increases.
State and Local Government Employee Salaries
The state employee "average": salary in 2006 was $50,767. Of course, "average" could mean one salary of $97,000 and four salaries of $40,000. However, $50,767 places us seventh in the nation. That means 43 other states pay their employees less than we do an as an "average". In 1999, the average state employee salary in Colorado was $41,000, ranking us sixth.
Local government employees kept steady when compared to state employee increases. The 1999 average salary was $33,000 and in 2006 it was $43,200.
Why do some states have fewer state employees than in previous years? SourceBook 2006 provides a five year comparison (2001-2006) for 13 states  with fewer employees in 2006 than in 2001. Budget problems may be the answer, but another possibility is  greater productivity.
Some legislator should ask legislative council and the National Conference of State Legislatures to find out why Connecticut has 4,000 fewer employees, Massacheusetts has 8,000 fewer, and Illinois has 14,000 fewer.
State and Local Highway Spending
SourceBook 2006 numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau 2004 figures. It shows Colorado spending nearly $2.5 billion compared to 1999 numbers of $1.4 billion. Colorado spent $530 per person in 2004 compared to $352 in 1999. We ranked 25th in 1999 and 15th in 2004.
Parks and Recreation Spending
This includes "parks, museums, recreation centers, stadiums and the like" according to SourceBook 2000 for 1999, with the overwhelming funding each year coming from local government. In 1999, Colorado ranked fourth with $124 per person and in 2004, Colorado ranked second with $207 per person, exceeded only by Nevada.
Welfare Recipients and Spending..
In 1999, we had 35,469 recipients and in 2005, we had 38,060. In 2005 we had 82 recipients per 10,000 residents, which placed us 36th. In 1999 we had 87 recipients per 10,000 residents which placed us 47th.  On census numbers from 2004, as to the average amount received by recipients, Colorado was 49th and  Nevada 50th.
As a portion of personal income, the money spent on welfare recipients placed Colorado 45th in 1999 and 49th in 2005. The 50th state in 2005 was Nevada.
Health Insurance Coverage
In 1999, we had 599,000 uninsured which was 15 percent of the population. In 2004 we had 767,000 uninsured, which was 17 percent of the population. We ranked 20th in 1999 and 12th in 2004.
Medicaid enrollees were  251,423 in 1999, ranking us 48th per 1,000 population. And in 2003 (the latest figures provided) we had 473,880, still ranked 48th per 1,000 population.
Students Per Instructional Computers
The fewer students using  each computer makes for more time per student. In 1999 we had 5.3 students per computer, which ranked us 17th. We were below the national average of 5.7 student per computer, which is good. In 2006 we had 4.2 students per computer, but everyone else pretty much did even better. We ranked 36th and above the national average of 3.8 students per computer. That's not good for us.
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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