DALLAS – Constitutional budget constraints will leave Colorado with a $373 million revenue shortfall when the General Assembly convenes in January, according to Gov. John Hickenlooper's proposed budget.
Revenues for the general fund of $10.36 billion in the next fiscal year are 0.9% above the current year's, Hickenlooper reported. But the budget for next year includes $830 million in required new spending, officials said.
The required spending includes $301 million in new funds budgeted to schools to keep up with inflation and enrollment growth, and $289 million in taxpayer refunds, which are constitutionally required under the state's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or TABOR, when revenue exceeds the rate of population growth and inflation.
Another $80 million is required for new Medicaid enrollees, and $160 million must repay money the state is using from its budget reserves to deal with a shortfall in the current budget year.
"We had to make difficult decisions to find this balance that will affect health care providers, students from kindergarten through college, and state workers," Hickenlooper said in his written statement. "We look forward to working with the General Assembly and the Joint Budget Committee on the final plan."
To balance the budget, Hickenlooper proposes reducing funding for public colleges by $20 million, a move that could raise tuition. The current budget for higher education is $857.4 million.
The Hickenlooper proposal would take $240 million from the state's rainy day fund to help with school funding. Cutting reimbursements to doctors who care for poor people would save nearly $20 million.
The budget includes no raise for state employees.