JBC Dems, Speaker highlight need for critical investments in K-12, higher education, and transportation infrastructure

DENVER, CO — Members of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) today received the September quarterly budget forecasts, which once again predicts continued, but slowing, economic expansion in Colorado, wage growth, and an unemployment rate that is well below the national average. Revenue caps continue to constrain the ability of the state to fully invest in critical priorities like education and transportation infrastructure.

The projections from economists in both the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly anticipate slower growth in state revenues due to the economic slowdown triggered by the Trump Administration’s trade war and a tight labor market. These conditions may lead to slower growth in critical sectors of the state’s economy, such as agriculture, manufacturing, and our outdoor recreation economy.

“We made critical investments this past legislative session to make healthcare more affordable, invest in education, and support hardworking Coloradans. Given that many of these investments are long-term commitments and that TABOR refunds are predicted for the foreseeable future, we need to be cautious in how we continue to make investments to support Coloradans,” said JBC Chair Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City. “However, the constraints imposed by TABOR caps may change depending on what Coloradans decide this fall when Prop CC is on the ballot.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the strength of our state’s overall economy, and I remain committed to building an economy that works for all Coloradans in all corners of the state,” said JBC Vice-Chair Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “I’m glad to see that the economic success of Colorado is now being seen in most areas of the state, but it’s a shame that policies at the federal level are threatening the financial security of Colorado’s working families, small businesses and agricultural and manufacturing sectors primarily in rural areas.

“As Colorado’s economy and population continue to grow, it’s a shame that the full benefits of our state’s economic success can’t be invested in key priorities due to arbitrary revenue caps,” said Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder. “It makes no sense that at a time when our economy is growing and revenue is increasing, our schools continue to be severely underfunded, our students bear too large a share of college expenses, and our roads and bridges continue to deteriorate.”

“I am proud of all that we accomplished this legislative session for hardworking Coloradans families while protecting the state’s finances. Given the forecasts presented this morning, it is clear that we need to think pragmatically and carefully examine our budget restrictions so that we can make fiscally responsible investments with our limited dollars,” said Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada. “I will continue to work across the aisle to make smart investments that have the biggest impact on Coloradans in every corner of the state.”

The Legislative Council Staff (LCS) forecast shows the General Fund is projected to end FY18-19 with $428.3 million above the Referendum C cap. The LCS report estimates that revenue will be over the Ref C Cap by $264.3 million in FY19-20, and by $142.9 million in FY20-21.

The OSPB forecast shows revenue expected to exceed the Referendum C cap by $428.3 million in FY18-19, by $348.1 million in FY19-20, and $551.6 million in FY20-21.

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