(Dec. 20) – The state government’s leading economists predicted today that Colorado’s economy would continue to grow, but warned that uneven growth, high housing costs and a tight labor market would slow, though not stop, the long-term growth trend.
Delivering their quarterly updates of economic activity and state revenues to the legislative Joint Budget Committee, economists with the Legislative Council and the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting made upward revisions of state revenue. Henry Sobanet of the OSPB estimated the boost at $179 million.
Additionally, they said their rough estimates of the federal tax changes passed by Congress today indicated an increase to the state’s general fund for the 2018-19 fiscal year of nearly $200 million (according to Kate Watkins, the legislature’s chief economist) or $270 million-$340 million (Sobanet’s estimate).
“We may have substantially more in revenue in the 2018-19 fiscal year than was predicted as recently as September,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, chairwoman of the JBC. “With chronically low funding for our schools, increasing costs for a higher education degree, increasing infrastructure investment needs, an emergency funding gap for our child health insurance program due to federal inaction, and declining severance tax revenues, there is no shortage of unmet needs. We will be looking to balance Colorado’s many competing statewide priorities in the coming months.”
“One of our goals will be to prioritize measures that will have the most impact for hard-working Coloradans who are still struggling to get ahead,” said Rep. Dave Young, D-Greeley, who also sits on the JBC. “That’s going to be a lot harder with a Congress that is threatening to shift significant costs to the states.”
“These economic forecasts are encouraging, but too many Coloradans are working hard but feel they can’t get ahead,” Speaker Crisanta Duran said. “We must continue working to address issues that will help hard-working Colorado families.”