CO Economic Forecasts Call for Smooth Sailing

(Sept. 20) – The leading economists in the state government are predicting a short-term uptick in the Colorado economy and a longer-term trend of continued steady though modest economic growth in Colorado and for the nation as a whole, with continued low unemployment in the state and a low risk of nationwide recession.

Appearing this morning before the legislative Joint Budget Committee, Natalie Mullis, the legislature’s chief economist, and Henry Sobanet, director of the state Office of Planning and Budgeting, issued strikingly similar forecasts for state revenue, which is directly tied to the health of the Colorado economy. Mullis estimated a revenue increase of $666 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which begins next July, and Sobanet estimated a rise of $636 million.

Both economists credited SB17-267, the hospital provider fee fix passed during the 2017 regular session, for easing immediate pressure on the state budget.

“Senate Bill 267 not only prevented severe cuts to hospital programs and services across the state, it helped protect us from drastic cuts to other state priorities, like education and transportation,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, the incoming chairwoman of the JBC. “We can address some of the most pressing needs of our growing state and make more investments that will extend and broaden Colorado’s economic expansion.”

“We’re in a good place right now,” said Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, who also sits on the JBC. “But as a budget-writer I have to worry about things like the latest health care overhaul debacle in DC. If it passes it will impose a huge cost shift onto the states, blowing an $800 million hole in Colorado’s budget. That’s what keeps me up at night.”

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