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Waste of the Day: Denver Cuts Budgets $5 Million to Give Migrants Free Housing

The City of Denver cut its budget by $5 million – in services, not bloated high-end salaries – to pay for free migrant housing.

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Topline: The City of Denver announced $5 million in budget cuts to help pay for free shelter for migrants from the southern border, with more budget cuts expected.

But according to records at, roughly one-third of Denver city employees made six-figure salaries last year — raising the question of why city services that benefit taxpayers are the first to lose funding.

Waste of the Day: Denver Cuts Budgets $5 Million to Give Migrants Free Housing
Waste of the Day 3.04.24 by Open the Books

Key facts: Mayor Mike Johnston said on Feb. 9 that Department of Motor Vehicle offices will be closed for a week at a time on a rotating basis. The parks department will also see reduced funding, with recreation centers open for fewer hours and summer programming reduced by 25%.

With the border crisis worsening, Denver is projected to spend $180 million to shelter migrants this year, meaning additional budget cuts are sure to come.

If the city is worried about overspending, perhaps its $1.2 billion payroll should be the first fund account on the chopping block.

OpenTheBooks auditors found doctors making $373,000 and police officers making $281,000. Nearly 5,000 Denver employees took home more than $100,000 in 2023.


Then, the city paid $225 million into its employees’ retirement plans — Denver’s second-largest expenditure in 2023.

Background: Denver spent $42 million to house 38,830 migrants in the last year. There are 3,813 people currently in shelters.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott contributed to that total by offering migrants free bus rides to Denver, as well as Chicago or New York — all Democratic cities that Abbott says need to “understand what is going on” at the border. Denver has been a popular option and is now trying to bus those same migrants to New York and other areas.

Johnston blamed House Republicans for failing to pass a bill in February that would have accelerated asylum claims and work permits for migrants in Denver, lessening the need for free housing.

Johnston suggested that the GOP is intentionally avoiding solving the border crisis so that former President Donald Trump can campaign on the issue and boost his chances of winning the presidential election.s


Critical quote: “Residents of Denver should be heartbroken and they should be furious,” Johnston said in a video posted on Instagram.

All that we asked is for the federal government to do the very minimum of their part to help alleviate this crisis … [Trump] intervened with House leadership to kill the bill just so this crisis would continue.

Summary: The City of Denver certainly could have found $5 million in its massive payroll rather than take money from important government departments to aid migrants. And that’s aside from the debate over whether Denver should be spending money to give immigrants free housing in the first place.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.

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Adam Andrzejewski (say: Angie-eff-ski) is the CEO/founder of Before dedicating his life to public service, Adam co-founded HomePages Directories, a $20 million publishing company (1997-2007). His works have been featured on the BBC, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, FOX News, CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), Forbes, Newsweek, and many other national media.

Today, is the largest private repository of U.S. public-sector spending. Mission: post "every dime, online, in real time." In 2022, captured nearly all public expenditures in the country, including nearly all disclosed federal government spending; 50 of 50 state checkbooks; and 25 million public employee salary and pension records from 50,000 public bodies across America.

The group's aggressive transparency and forensic auditing of government spending has led to the assembly of grand juries, indictments, and successful prosecutions; congressional briefings, hearings, and subpoenas; Government Accountability Office (GAO) audits; Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports; federal legislation; and much more.

Our Honorary Chairman - In Memoriam is U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, MD.

Andrzejewski's federal oversight work was included in the President's Budget To Congress FY2021. The budget cited his organization by name, bullet-pointed their findings, and footnoted/hyperlinked to their report.

Posted on YouTube, Andrzejewski's presentation, The Depth of the Swamp, at the Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar 2020 in Naples, Florida received 3.8 million views.

Andrzejewski has spoken at the Columbia School of Journalism, Harvard Law School and the law schools at Georgetown and George Washington regarding big data journalism. As a senior policy contributor at Forbes, Adam had nearly 20 million pageviews on 206 published investigations. In 2022, investigative fact-finding on Dr. Fauci's finances led to his cancellation at Forbes.

In 2022, Andrzejewski did 473 live television and radio interviews across broadcast, major cable platforms, and radio shows. Andrzejewski is the author of The Waste of the Day column at Real Clear Policy. The column is syndicated by Sinclair Broadcast Group, owners of nearly 200 ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX affiliates across USA.

Andrzejewski lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife Kerry and three daughters. He is a lector at St. Isaac Jogues Catholic Church and has finished the Chicago Marathon eight times (PR 3:58.49 in 2022).


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