State economists: Colorado state revenues increasing

DENVER (AP) — Colorado's strong economy and the new federal tax law are boosting the state government's revenues.

That's the word from the state's chief legislative and executive branch economists.

They told lawmakers Monday that general fund revenue could increase significantly in the fiscal year that begins July 1 — up to $1.3 billion more than is budgeted for the current fiscal year.

Their forecasts are used by the bipartisan Joint Budget Committee to draft the 2018-2019 state budget.

The federal tax law is encouraging business investment and will increase state tax collections, which are tied to higher federal tax collections.

The economists warn the state's outlook could change quickly depending on unforeseen economic or political developments at home and abroad.

Senate President Kevin Grantham sent the following statement about the forecasts Monday afternoon:

“Today’s optimistic fiscal forecast confirms what we have been saying since the beginning of the session, which is that we have more than enough new revenue to jump-start a major statewide road rebuilding effort, using existing dollars, while still adequately funding education and other budget priorities.

We are encouraged, midway through this session, to see Governor Hickenlooper making it clear that transportation funding is a priority for his administration. Unfortunately, we’ve yet to hear anything from Statehouse Democrats except the same old mantra that we can’t fix Colorado’s roads without a tax hike, which is an excuse for inaction that today’s fiscal forecast just demolished.

We have over $1.2 billion in additional funds that can be used to fix Colorado’s roads, and we can do so without a tax hike. It’s a golden opportunity with a reasonable chance of success, and Democrats in the Senate and the House will have a lot to explain to Coloradans if they blow this opportunity due to a single-minded obsession with imposing tax hikes that aren’t necessary and have no chance of winning over voters.”

Two House Democrats who sit on the Joint Budget Committee also sent statements about the forecasts Monday:

“These forecasts are good news for Colorado, but we have to be mindful of the long-term uncertainty,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon. “And with so much pent-up need, we still have hard choices to make as we complete our negotiation of a balanced, bipartisan budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year.” 

“We have a great opportunity to make strategic investments in services that will help hardworking Coloradans across the state, including greater investments in our schools and our roads,” said Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley. “In the long term, we need to address the $6.7 billion hole in K-12 operations and the $18 billion hole in K-12 capital construction and repair needs.” 

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