Improving economy gives lawmakers more to spend in next year's budget process

DENVER - The improving economy and increasing tax receipts are allowing Colorado lawmakers to fund more programs as they prepare to vote on next year's budget.

Funding per student in public schools is expected to increase next year and colleges are also getting more money. Both are areas of the budget that have suffered deep cuts in recent years. Lawmakers note that they still haven't made up all the lost funding.

Next year's budget also includes funding to strengthen the state's mental health system, increase services for those with developmental disabilities, and the first pay raise in five year for state employees.

The Senate debates the budget Wednesday.

General fund expenditures, which lawmakers control, are expected to be about $8.2 billion next year, compared to $7.6 billion in the current budget year.

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