Difference between revisions of "Colorado state budget and finances"

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Text replace - " <ref>[http://www.c" to "<ref>[http://www.c")
m (Text replace - " <ref" to "<ref")
Line 70: Line 70:
The budget as passed by the legislature can be found [http://www.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2012A/csl.nsf/lbcontainer/HB12-1335?OpenDocument here].
The budget as passed by the legislature can be found [http://www.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2012A/csl.nsf/lbcontainer/HB12-1335?OpenDocument here].
On April 12, 2012, the [[Colorado House of Representatives|House]] approved its version of the FY2013 state budget by a vote of 64-1.  The General Fund in the House's budget would be $7.5 billion, a 6.5 percent increase of FY2012.  The increase is due in part to increased revenues. <ref name=easily>[http://www.denverpost.com/legislature/ci_20385310/colorados-19-billion-budget-easily-clears-house-goes The Denver Post "Colorado's $19 billion budget easily clears House, goes to Senate" April 13, 2012]</ref>   
On April 12, 2012, the [[Colorado House of Representatives|House]] approved its version of the FY2013 state budget by a vote of 64-1.  The General Fund in the House's budget would be $7.5 billion, a 6.5 percent increase of FY2012.  The increase is due in part to increased revenues.<ref name=easily>[http://www.denverpost.com/legislature/ci_20385310/colorados-19-billion-budget-easily-clears-house-goes The Denver Post "Colorado's $19 billion budget easily clears House, goes to Senate" April 13, 2012]</ref>   
Highlights of the House budget includes:
Highlights of the House budget includes:

Revision as of 21:30, 10 March 2014

Colorado state budget

Flag of Colorado.png
Budget calendar:  Annual
Fiscal year:  2013
Date signed:  May 7, 2012
Other state budgets
AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasKentuckyLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming

Colorado operates on an annual budget cycle. Its fiscal year begins July 1.

Colorado's total budget for FY2013 was approximately $20 billion. Lawmakers controlled only a portion of that budget, and that portion included the $7.4 billion General Fund that lawmakers approved in April 2012.[1] Governor John Hickenlooper signed the state budget into law on May 7, 2012.[2] It increases spending more than 6 percent over the prior year.[3]

As of August 2012, Colorado had a total state debt of approximately $78,514,721, when calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and FY2013 budget gap.[4] The debt total is less than the prior year's total of $80,386,294,000.[5]

As of October 2012, Colorado's total state debt per capita was $15,344.51.[6]

See also: The Colorado State Budget on State Budget Solutions

Federal Aid to State Budget

The chart below represents how much of the state’s budget comes from the federal government. The number is the corresponding ranking in relation to the rest of the nation (if #1, the state receives the highest percentage of federal funding in the nation):

State 2008 2009 2010 2011
Colorado 25.29% (#40) 28.89% (#40) 32.41% (#40) 32.05% (#38)
  • Figures were calculated by dividing each state’s intergovernmental revenue into its general revenue.[7][8]

Fiscal Year 2014 State Budget

On Nov. 1, 2012, Governor John Hickenlooper presented his proposed $20.3 billion FY2014 state budget.[9] The governor's budget proposal can be found here.

Under the governor's proposed budget, total spending would increase by 5.4 percent over FY2013, with healthcare spending seeing the largest increase.[9] The plan did not make any major cuts.[10]

Under the proposed budget, the state general fund would increase to $8.1 billion next year, up from about $7.6 billion in FY2013. The state's total funds budget, including the general fund, cash funds and federal money, would grow to $21.9 billion, an increase of $1.1 billion[10], which is 5.5 percent.[11]

Spending increases in the proposed budget include:

  • $213 million more for K-12 education, an increase of 4.8 percent, the equivalent of a $185 per pupil, over the current year.[9] It would bring the K-12 education budget to $3 billion, the largest part of the general fund.[10]
  • $68.3 million , or 2.3 percent, more for higher education, as well as permission for colleges to increase tuition by 9 percent.[9]
  • $57.8 million for aa 1.5 percent pay increase for state employees, who have not had a raise in 4 years. The governor, though, proposes that state employees split the cost of increases in health, life and dental and insurance costs.[9]
  • $2 million more on tourism, including a $500,000 campaign to give Colorado a "unified branding platform."[9]

The proposal includes a rainy day reserve fund of 5 percent of the general fund, or $387.3 million. For FY2013, the budget provided a 4 percent reserve, which covered two weeks of operating expenses. Increasing the fund to 5 percent would represent 18 days of operating expenses.[11]

Fiscal Year 2013 State Budget

Governor John Hickenlooper signed the $7.7 billion state general fund budget into law on May 7, 2012.[12] The FY2013 budget represents a 6.4 increase over FY2012 spending.[3]

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 FY 2008-09. Moreover, the Department of Education will receive an additional $8.7 million in total funds to support the ongoing Educator Effectiveness operations.[3]

Budget highlights include:[3]

  • a 4 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 found here.

On April 12, 2012, the House approved its version of the FY2013 state budget by a vote of 64-1. The General Fund in the House's budget would be $7.5 billion, a 6.5 percent increase of FY2012. The increase is due in part to increased revenues.[13]

Highlights of the House budget includes:

  • a $98.5 million property-tax break for seniors;
  • no decrease in elementary education funding, it will be the same as it was in FY2012;
  • $4.2 million for all-day kindergarten;
  • higher-education funding will be close to the FY2012 level;
  • no raise for state employees for the fourth year in a row.[13]

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

On April 18, 2012, the Senate passed it's version of the FY2013 state budget of $7.4 billion by a vote of 30-5.[14] A conference committee will meet to resolve the small differences in the House and Senate budgets.[14] The chambers agreed on the key issues, including:[15]

  • 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 this year.

The legislature approved several amendments and companion bills to conclude their work on the budget.[15]

Governor's Proposed Budget

Governor John Hickenlooper in November 2011 presented his proposed budget for FY2013 with a total funds budget of $20.09 billion, of which $7.39 billion is from the General Fund. The budget amounts represent growth rates of 1.7% ($342.6 million) in total funds and 3.2% ($227.1 million) in the General Fund.[16]

The proposal called for cuts to public schools and universities to help close the budget gap. Specifically, the governor would reduce funding to K-12 schools by $97 million, approximately $160 per student, and reduce higher education funding by $76 million.[17] He recommended doing away with tax breaks for seniors to save $99 million and also reducing spending on road repairs.[17]

The Governor's proposed budget can be found [ http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251749659390&ssbinary=true here].

Henry Sobanet, budget director, said on Sept. 20, 2011, that the state would face a structural imbalance of $400 million to $500 million in the 2012-13 budget. Sobanet's office said a historic recession combined with higher demand for state services has created the structural gap.[18] An 11.1 percent increase in Medicaid costs and a 3.7 percent jump in prison expenditures also contributed to the budget gap.[17]

The budget figures were bolstered by increased tax revenue anticipated in FY2013.[19]

Fiscal Year 2012 State Budget

Governor John Hickenlooper signed the $18 billion long form FY2012 budget on May 6, 2011.[20] The General Fund for FY2012, contained in SB11-209, including appropriations by individual agencies, can be found here. The legislature passed other, related bills to balance the budget, which Colorado's Constitution requires.[21] The general fund totals approximately $7 billion.[22]


The budget reduced state aid to K-12 schools by $250 million and higher education funding by $36 million.[21] It also makes cuts to state agencies across the board, and transfers drilling and mining taxes from local governments. The budget merged two parts of the Department of Natural Resources - the Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks, and it is possible a few state parks may be closed. It also calls for the closure of a state prison.[23]

Hickenlooper signed SB 230 on June 9, 2011, which cut state education funding by an additional $225 million.[24]


The FY2012 budget repealed two taxes: sales taxes on online software sales, and sales taxes on agricultural products such as fertilizers and animal medicine. It also retains a retailer sales-tax rebate that Democrats had wanted to suspend.[23] The budget enacts an"Amazon" tax to force out-of-state internet sellers of products to help collect use tax from Colorado residents.[25]


For FY2012, Colorado devoted 28.9% of its total spending to K-12 education, up from 27.9% in FY2009.[26]

Fiscal Year Total Spending[27] Education Spending[28] Percent Education Spending
2009 $44.5 billion $12.9 billion 28.9%
2010 $46.4 billion $12.1 billion 26.0%
2011 $46.1 billion $12.2 billion 26.4%
2012 $46.1 billion $12.9 billion 27.9%

The Denver Post, however, reported that K-12 school funding accounted for more than 40 percent of the state's general fund.[29] The budget as originally passed included cuts to education, but in Dec. 2011, Gov. Hickenlooper said he was hopeful that higher than anticipated revenue projections meant that $89 million in funding could be restored to K-12 education.[30]

Higher education was supposed to be cut by $60 million, but with revenue reports in December higher than anticipated, Gov. Hickenlooper expressed hope that the cuts could be halved to $30 million, with $25 million of the funding proposed to be restored to higher education would go to student financial aid.[31]

Legislative Proposed Budget

The Colorado House gave final approval to $18,000,000,000.00 budget bill on April 14, 2011. Lawmakers balanced the budget by cutting $250 million from K-12 education, cutting other state agencies across the board, and by taking drilling and mining taxes from local governments. The House budget is substantially similar to the Senate version passed a few days prior. Both the House and Senate agreed with the Governor on closing a prison to save money, though lawmakers delayed the closure by six months. They also agreed with the governor on boosting the state's reserve fund.[32]

The Joint Budget Committee agreed a budget compromise on April 5, 2011. The $7 billion budget called for $250 million in cuts to K-12 education, nearly $100 million less than the governor had proposed, and it also restores two tax exemptions that had been suspended last year. It also reduced the state’s proposed collection of vendor fees by two-thirds and end collection outright after three years, reducing the state's an estimated revenue for each of the next three years to $20 million, down from the $60 million it would have raised each years under the governor’s proposal.[33]

Governor's Proposed Budget

Then Governor Ritter presented his proposed budget to the state legislature's Joint Budget Committee on Nov. 2, 2010.[34] The committee will draft its own budget and the legislature will vote in March 2011.[35] Months later, Gov. Hickenlooper took office and proposed his own state budget on Feb. 15, 2011.[36]

Gov. Hickenlooper's budget cut an additional $570 million on top of the plan that Gov. Bill Ritter in November 2010.[36] Ritter's proposed FY2012 state budget included $7.6 billion in general fund dollars, $6.3 billion in cash funds and another $5.1 billion in federal funds.[37] It was almost $1 billion more than the FY2011 state budget.[34] The budget covers a projected $715 million revenue deficit.[38] Before the governor submitted his budget, Democrats predicted that cuts to public education would be necessary as Republicans said they expected funding for prisons and tourism promotion to be reduced.[39]

  • Education

The biggest change from Ritter's budget is that Hickenlooper proposed a $375 million reduction to public schools, including a $257 million reduction in general fund support for education and Hickenlooper's decision to not fill a $117 million reduction in local share funding caused by decreases in assessed values.[36] Those decisions would result in a $332 million net reduction over funding for K-12 in the current year, or $497 less per kid, which is the biggest hit to K-12 education funding in state history.[36]

Other cuts in Hickenlooper's budget included cutting an additional $36 million from state support for higher education, cutting funding for colleges down to $519 million.[36]

  • State Employees

The proposed budget decreased payroll funding for departments by 2 percent, saving nearly $10 million. For current employees, the budget did not include a pay raise for the third year in a row.[34] Under Hickenlooper's budget, state employees would also contribute 4.5% of their pay to cover the state's contribution to the pension fund.[36]

  • Taxes

Tax breaks were not eliminated under the proposed budget.[34]

  • State Parks

Hickenlooper's budget would close four state parks.[36] Under Ritter's proposed budget, park fees would increase by $1/day.[34]

  • Unions

The governor said he would honor an agreement giving workers limited bargaining rights and has invited employees to submit ideas for cutting waste and inefficiencies. While some unions were fine with the governor's actions, teacher unions were not pleased with the deep cuts that Hickenlooper has proposed to education funding in the state.[40]

Budget transparency

See also: Evaluation of Colorado state website or Constitutional provisions regarding reading of bills

Article 5, Section 22 of the state constitution requires that the title of the bill be read when introduced, and at length on two different days in each house and full bill and amendments must be printed before final vote. It also requires votes in each house on two separate days.

On June 4, 2009, Governor Ritter signed Colorado House Bill 1288, the "Colorado Taxpayer Transparency Act," into law. The law required the creation of an online spending database.[41]

Government tools

The following table is helpful in evaluating the level of transparency provided by a state spending and transparency database:

Criteria for evaluating spending databases
State Database Searchability Grants Contracts Line Item Expenditures Dept/Agency Budgets Public Employee Salary
Colorado T.O.P. P
600px-Yes check.png
  • Expenditures are not searchable, but rather navigable by three search methods.
  • Grants are viewable as an expenditure category.
  • Contracts are posted and searchable through a Contract Management System that is linked to from the Transparency Online Project.[42]
  • Department and agency budgets are available through the Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting, which is linked to via the Transparency Online Project webpage.[43]
  • Personnel costs to agencies and departments are viewable as expenditures, but only as total amounts. Individual employee salaries are not available.

Transparency Legislation

  • In May 2011, the legislature enacted SB11-184 requiring the Colorado Department of Revenue to create an annual tax expenditure report by Jan. 1, 2013.[44]

Multi-Measure Budget Transparency Profile

The Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois has created a multi-measure transparency profile for Colorado, which measures state transparency as of September 2011 using indicators from a range of organizations, including Sunshine Review. These indicators measure both website transparency and other recognized facets of governmental transparency. In addition, IGPA presents four unique indicators of non-transparency based on the observation that transfers or reassignments between general and special funds can obscure the true fiscal condition of a state.

In addition to the individual state profile, IGPA offers a 50-state comparison and profiles for other states.

Budget background

Colorado’s state revenue increased annually 1.9 percent for the period from FY 1999 to FY 2009 while three of its largest General Fund appropriations (K-12, Corrections, and Health) grew 5.4% each year on average. These three spending categories have grown from 54% of the General Fund budget in 1999 to 76% within a decade. They are estimated to increase their portion of the budget to 91% in five years.[45]

Colorado's fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30. State departments submit their budget proposals to the Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting as part of the executive budget process. The governor and his staff review the budget proposals and limit each department's budget request based on the governor's priorities, and they determine which new funding initiatives may be included in the request.[46] Departments submit budgets to the Joint Budget Committee by November 1. Shortly thereafter the committee schedules hearings with each agency. The staff analysts brief the Committee on each budget request a few days prior to the hearing with a department. Briefings and hearings for most departments are scheduled in November and December. By February 1, the Legislature is required to certify, by joint resolution, the amount from the state's General Fund available for appropriation for the next fiscal year. Once the General Assembly convenes in early January a series of hearings and joint budget meetings that run both through the House and the Senate. Both houses must accept the final bill before it is signed into law.[47]

See Colorado state budget (2008-2009) for more information.

General Fund Revenue Collections: FY 08-09 compared to FY 07-08[48]

FY 2008 FY 2009 Percent Change
Individual Income $4,974 $4,424 -11.1%
Corporate Income 507.9 350.9 -30.9%
Excise/Sales Taxes 2,411 2,265 -6.0%
Other 258.1 246.4 -4.5%
Total 8,151 7,287 -10.5%

All figures are in millions and include revenues collected for State Education Fund, based on March 2009 forecast.

Accounting principles

See also: Colorado government accounting principles

Office of the State Auditor reports to The Legislative Audit Committee. The Legislative Audit Committee (LAC) is a permanent standing committee comprised of four senators and four representatives with equal representation from the two major political parties. The Committee is responsible for reviewing and releasing audit reports and recommending special studies. The LAC also recommends an appointment for State Auditor to the leadership of the General Assembly every five years. Sally Symanski is Colorado’s state auditor. Audit reports are published online.[49]

Credit Rating Fitch Moody's S&P
Colorado[50] NR Aa3 AA


Between February 2009 and June 2013, Colorado received $4,698,530,000.00 in federal funding.[51]

Public Employees

See also: Colorado public employee salaries]]
See also: Colorado public pensions]]

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Colorado and local governments in the state employed a total of 320,650 people.[52] Of those employees, 227,729 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $971,010,148 per month and 92,921 were part-time employees paid $113,456,631 per month.[52] More than 56% of those employees, or 180,041 employees, were in education or higher education.[52]

See also

External links

Additional reading


  1. The Aurora Sentinel "Lawmakers finish work on Colorado budget" April 27, 2012
  2. KRDO.com May 7, 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 KRDO.com "Gov. Hickenlooper Signs Budget Bill For Next Fiscal Year" May 7, 2012
  4. State Budget Solutions "State Budget Solutions' third annual State Debt Report shows total state debt over $4 trillion" Aug. 28, 2012
  5. State Budget Solution “Report reveals aggregate state debt exceeds $4 trillion” Oct. 24, 2011
  6. State Budget Solutions "State debt more than $37,000 per private worker, $13,000 per capita" Oct. 2, 2012
  7. US Census Federal Aid to State and Local Governments
  8. Tax Foundation' "Monday Map: Federal Aid to State Budgets. Accessed October 15, 2013
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 The Denver Post "Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper proposes $20.3 billion budget for 2013-14" Nov. 1, 2012
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 CBSNews.com "CO budget plan focuses on investments, not cuts" Nov. 2, 2012
  11. 11.0 11.1 Governor's Press Release "Proposed budget for FY 2013-14 boosts funding for education, economic development and restores cuts for critical state services" Nov. 1, 2012
  12. KRDO.com May 7, 2012
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Denver Post "Colorado's $19 billion budget easily clears House, goes to Senate" April 13, 2012
  14. 14.0 14.1 The Denver Post "Colorado budget nears final lap with excitement" April 18, 2012
  15. 15.0 15.1 The Aurora Sentinel "Lawmakers finish work on Colorado budget" April 27, 2012
  16. Budget Presentation Letter from Gov. Hickenlooper to Sen. Hodge Nov. 1, 2011
  17. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named trim
  18. The Denver Post "Colorado revenue forecast: Up to $500 million state government deficit in 2012-13" Sept. 20, 2011
  19. The Denver Post "Improving economy helps Colorado's state budget" March 19, 2012
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named inks
  21. 21.0 21.1 Denver Business Journal "Hickenlooper signs budget bill into law" May 6, 2011
  22. The Denver Post "Colorado's improving budget forecast spreads holiday cheer" Dec. 21, 2011
  23. 23.0 23.1 Forbes "Colorado gov signs $18 billion budget into law" May 6, 2011
  24. The Durango Herald "Governor signs off on school cuts" June 9, 2011
  25. Estes Park Trail "Denver finished with lawmaking" May 12, 2011
  26. State Budget Solutions "Throwing Money At Education Isn't Working" Sept. 12, 2012
  27. USGovernmentSpending.com "Colorado Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  28. http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/spending_chart_1997_2017ALb_13s1li111mcn_20t USGovernmentSpending.com "Colorado Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  29. The Denver Post "Study says Colorado budget outlook worse than thought and cutting alone won't fix it" Sept. 1, 2011
  30. The Denver Post "Colorado's improving budget forecast spreads holiday cheer" Dec. 21, 2011
  31. Businessweek
  32. [Businessweek "Colorado House gives final approval to $18B budget" April 14, 2011]
  33. The Pueblo Chieftan "Accord reached on state budget" April 5, 2011
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 34.4 The Denver Post "Ritter unveils $19.1 billion budget for Colorado in 2011-12" Nov. 3, 2010
  35. Businessweek "Colorado governor: More tough budget cuts expected" Nov. 10, 2010
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 36.3 36.4 36.5 36.6 The Denver Post "Hickenlooper's state budget hits education, parks and prisons" Feb. 15, 2011
  37. The Colorado Statesman "State budget feeling the pinch with end of federal dollars" Nov. 10, 2010
  38. Businessweek "Colorado smokers, parks take proposed budget hit" Nov. 2, 2010
  39. Businessweek "Colo. ed, prison cuts expected to help budget gap" Oct. 7, 2010
  40. The Washington Post "Democratic governors try to enlist labor's help in dealing with budget crises" Feb. 25, 2011
  41. Colorado Taxpayer Transparency Act
  42. State of Colorado - Contract Management System
  43. Office of State Planning and Budgeting
  44. HOUSE BILL 11-1104
  45. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named tsun
  46. State of Colorado,"Budget Process and schedule," retrieved March 19,2009
  47. State of Colorado, "The role of the Joint Budget Committee in the budget process," retrieved March 19, 2009
  48. Tomlinson & Associates, “2009 Colorado General Assembly Legislative Session Review,” June 6, 2009
  49. Office of the State Auditor Web site, retrieved October 11, 2009
  50. "State of Indiana", “State Credit Ratings-as of June 24, 2009
  51. Recovery, "Stimulus Spending by State"
  52. 52.0 52.1 52.2 Colorado Public Employment Data