Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado
Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the state’s $23 billion budget April 30.

DALLAS - Colorado will increase its reserves to 6.5% of general fund appropriations under a $24.2 billion budget signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper on April 30.

The annual outlay for the fiscal year beginning July 1 represents an increase of about 5.4% in overall spending, according to the governor's office. For state appropriations only, the increase is about 5%.

About $9 billion of the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is made up of state revenue derived primarily from state sales and income taxes. Another $6.7 billion comes from fees, fines and other non-tax revenues, and about $7.2 billion comes from federal grants, according to the governor's office. The remainder is made up of transfers between state agencies.

"The budget for FY 2014-15 makes prudent use of revenues resulting from our state's strong economic performance, substantially increasing General Fund reserves and addressing critical issues in our state," Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to the General Assembly upon receipt of the budget.

Hickenlooper noted that the amount of revenue set aside in reserve will rise to 6.5% of General Fund appropriations from the 2% reserve three years ago, and "places Colorado on much firmer footing when the inevitable next revenue downturn comes." The 6.5% target was included in the budget Hickenlooper submitted in January.

Outlays for capital construction will rise about 20% to $225 million from $186.7 million in the current fiscal year. Transportation funding rises slightly to $1.128 billion.

Colorado issues no general obligation bonds but will pay about $35.8 million on its certificates of participation in the next fiscal year. That's about the same as the current fiscal year, a governor's spokeswoman said.

The bill also increases funding for public schools to keep up with enrollment and inflation, and adds an extra $100 million for colleges to limit tuition increases. In the wake of disastrous forest fires and flooding in 2013, the bill also provides funds for an aerial firefighting team.

Officials in the governor's office said the final amount of the budget could vary because lawmakers are still considering other spending measures. The regular session is scheduled to end May 7.

Colorado carries an issuer credit rating of AA from Standard & Poor's. Moody's Investors Service rates the state Aa1. Outlooks are stable.

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