(June 20) – The state’s leading economists told the legislative Joint Budget Committee today that Colorado’s economic rebound was continuing, noting that the number of jobs in the state had returned to 2.4 million, a level last seen just before the Great Recession in 2008.

Natalie Mullis, the legislature’s chief economist, estimated that the state would have a general fund surplus of $1.1 billion this fiscal year, which ends June 30. That’s an increase of about $250 million from March’s quarterly estimate. Henry Sobanet of the Office of State Planning and Budgeting estimated the quarterly increase at a little over $300 million. The state budget mirrors the overall economy.

By law, the majority of surplus revenue in the 2012-13 fiscal year will be appropriated to the state education fund, which serves as a savings account for k-12 education.

“This money to shore up the state education fund will help us weather future fluctuations in revenue,” said Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), the vice chairwoman of the JBC. “This will give us a little more room to address the needs of our state’s most vulnerable populations in future fiscal years.”

“I’m especially pleased that the state ranks fourth in the nation in job creation and has returned to prerecession employment levels,” said Rep. Crisanta Duran (D-Denver), who also sits on the JBC. “We still have a way to go till employment catches up with population growth and discouraged job seekers get back in the market, but jobs remain the House Democrats’ No. 1 priority, and we will continue to introduce measures to boost Colorado’s economy.”

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