Colorado state budget could escape “worst of the worst,” latest economic estimates show |

Colorado state budget could escape “worst of the worst,” latest economic estimates show

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signs the state's budget into law on Monday, June 23, 2020, while surrounded by Democratic members of the Joint Budget Committee.
Courtesy Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

Colorado could be spared billions in additional state budget cuts under new economic forecasts released Friday with one crucial caveat: As long as new viral outbreaks don’t send the economy back into a tailspin.

“I think today’s forecast is going to spare us the worst of the worst,” Lauren Larson, the governor’s budget director, told lawmakers at a Friday hearing.

The picture presented to the Joint Budget Committee represented a dramatic improvement from the last economic forecast, in June, when budget writers were bracing for additional $1 billion in budget cuts next year on top of the $3 billion they had just slashed from the current year’s spending plan.

The economists in Gov. Jared Polis’ budget office and the nonpartisan Colorado Legislative Council said the improved outlook in part reflects a quicker rebound in consumer spending than they initially expected. But the single biggest factor for the rosier forecast was the fact the economy was simply even better before it collapsed than forecasters realized.

The state ended the 2019-20 fiscal year June 30 with an estimated $895 million more general fund revenue than expected, money that came in later than usual because of an extended income tax filing deadline. The general fund represents the discretionary state spending that lawmakers allocate in each budget.


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