Colorado faces $6.8 billion coronavirus hit to state budget in coming years, new forecast projects
The economic crunch from the coronavirus means Colorado will need to immediately cut as much as $3.1 billion in state spending, an unprecedented 25% budget reduction that will force lawmakers to repeal entire initiatives and make deep reductions in education and health care.
The budget hit for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is just the beginning. A forecast from legislative economistspresented to lawmakers Tuesday expects the coronavirus to make a $6.8 billion dent in state tax revenue over the next three years when compared with projections from December.
The financial landscape is worse than lawmakers expected. Now Demoratic leaders are considering major cuts to local school districts and reductions in the government workforce unless the state receives more federal aid or raises revenue with tax and fee increases.
“I don’t see how we can make the level of reductions needed and still have a functioning state government,” said state Sen. Dominick Moreno, a top budget writer and Democrat from Commerce City.
The estimated 7.2% decline in the general fund — which is the state’s discretionary spending — for next budget year is a reversal after more than a decade of growth and represents the first decline since the start of the Great Recession.
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