Colorado state budget (2012-2013)

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Governor John Hickenlooper signed the $7.7 billion state general fund budget into law on May 7, 2012. The fiscal year 2013 budget represented a 6.4 percent increase over fiscal year 2012 spending.[1]

Increases in revenue permitted the state to maintain per pupil funding in K-12 schools even with the prior year for the first time since fiscal year 2009. Moreover, the Department of Education was set to receive an additional $8.7 million in total funds to support the ongoing Educator Effectiveness operations.[1]

Budget highlights included:[1]

  • A four percent reserve in the General Fund;
  • $22.2 million to upgrade and modernize the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS);
  • $15 million in total funds, highlighted by a $4 million General Fund increase, to ensure continued investment in promoting Colorado's Tourism and Creative industries;
  • An increase of $4.9 million in total funds to provide essential services for an additional 173 people with developmental disabilities.

Legislative proposed budget

The budget as passed by the legislature can be accessed here.

On April 12, 2012, the House approved its version of the fiscal year 2013 state budget by a vote of 64-1. The General Fund in the House's budget would have been $7.5 billion, a 6.5 percent increase over fiscal year 2012. The increase was due in part to increased revenues.[2]

Highlights of the House budget included:

  • A $98.5 million property-tax break for seniors;
  • No decrease in elementary education funding;
  • $4.2 million for all-day kindergarten;
  • Higher education funding close to the fiscal year 2012 level;
  • No raise for state employees for the fourth year in a row.[2]

The House budget bill, HB12-1335, can be accessed here.

On April 18, 2012, the Senate passed its version of the fiscal year 2013 state budget of $7.4 billion by a vote of 30-5.[3] A conference committee met to resolve the small differences in the House and Senate budgets.[3] The chambers agreed on the key issues, including:[4]

  • Restoring a $100 million property tax break for homeowners 65 and older who have lived in their houses for at least 10 years;
  • Closing a southern Colorado prison to save more than $4 million year;
  • Adding money for K-12 education to keep per-pupil spending at $6,474, the same as fiscal year 2012.

The legislature approved several amendments and companion bills to conclude their work on the budget.[4]

Governor's proposed budget

Governor John Hickenlooper in November 2011 presented his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 with a total funds budget of $20.09 billion, of which $7.39 billion was from the General Fund. The budget amounts represented growth rates of 1.7 percent ($342.6 million) in total funds and 3.2 percent ($227.1 million) in the General Fund.

The proposal called for cuts to public schools and universities to help close the budget gap. Specifically, the governor planned to reduce funding to K-12 schools by $97 million, approximately $160 per student, and reduce higher education funding by $76 million. He recommended doing away with tax breaks for seniors to save $99 million and also reducing spending on road repairs.

The Governor's proposed budget can be accessed here.

Henry Sobanet, budget director, said on September 20, 2011, that the state would face a structural imbalance of $400 million to $500 million in the fiscal year 2013 budget. Sobanet's office said a historic recession combined with higher demand for state services created the structural gap.[5] An 11.1 percent increase in Medicaid costs and a 3.7 percent jump in prison expenditures also contributed to the budget gap.

The budget figures were bolstered by increased tax revenue anticipated in fiscal year 2013.[6]