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Financing Colorado's Future: An Analysis of the Fiscal Sustainability of State Government

Requested by the Colorado General Assembly in early 2010, during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the two-part study projects the long-term trajectories of state General Fund program expenditures and the tax revenues that support them.

The analysis forecasts a $3.5 billion gap between General Fund revenues and spending in FY 2024-25, primarily due to skyrocketing growth in Medicaid costs and pressures that will continue to increase state government's share of public school financing, even as Colorado's economy improves.

"Twelve years from now, Colorado will generate only enough sales, income and other general-purpose tax revenue to pay for the three largest programs in the General Fund ֠public schools, health care and prisons. There will be no tax revenue for public colleges and universities, no money for the state court system, nothing for child-protection services, nothing for youth corrections, nothing for state crime labs and nothing for other core services of state government.
"That is the magnitude of the structural imbalance facing the state unless policymakers and voters find a way to bridge an ever-widening chasm between forecast expenditures and revenues."

Structural problems require structural solutions, on both the service-delivery side of the equation and the revenue side. The study illustrates ways the gap could be closed with program cuts or a restructured revenue package designed to grow more in step with future spending, limit volatility and better reflect the economy. It recommends that both cuts and revenue increases be considered to fix the structural imbalance.

Download the Phase 2 summary and the longer Phase 1 report.

March 2012 Update

Mill Levy Animation

  

  

Animation: Visualize the Downward Slide of School District Mill Levies — and More State Aid

  

  

  

View our slideshow as a narrated video.

Download the slideshow as a pdf.

Slide Presentation Video

  

CML article

     


From Colorado Municipalities, magazine of the Colorado Municipal League, Dec. 2011

"The Budget: Structural Repairs Needed For Structural Flaws" by Charlie Brown, CCEF director