Gov. Bill Ritter will outline his proposal for a $19.1 billion state budget.

The proposed plan covers a projected $715 million revenue shortfall next year.

The announcement Wednesday kicks off several months of budget hearings for the Legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, which sets state spending priorities.

Ritter’s proposal largely protects higher education with $555 million in state funding, but colleges and universities would still face a cut of $89 million in federal stimulus funding.

Ritter has warned the proposed $43 million budget increase for public schools will only cover a portion of the $130 million total cost of inflation and enrollment increases.

Lawmakers will consider Ritter’s plan and approve their own budget next March.

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