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Making sense of the budget

 

Last updated 4/13/2022 at 10:47am | View PDF

The state operates on a fiscal year, so our just-approved budget of something over $36 million will kick in July 1. You may see or hear other amounts like the $37.2 million that the Senate passed last Thursday after we added our wishlist to the budget where at least a majority of the Senators thought they were worthy.

A quick review of the process: the Joint Budget Committee has been working since early November to present the legislature a balanced budget. Which was $36.4 million for fiscal year 2022/23. The budget started in the House this year where they added their mark-ups and sent it over to the Senate. We promptly stripped off their amendments and added our own mark-ups taking it to the 37.2 million number. Now the budget goes back to the Joint Budget Committee which acts as the conference committee, so you can guess what is going to happen to the markups the legislature spent two days debating. It's a safe bet that the final number will be back around that 36-plus number.

Some of the legislature's wishlist could be funded out of an all-time high reserve of 15 percent. However, a smart legislator will have low expectations for any additional funds for their favorite cause. While the final, final budget is not quite done we are within a stone's throw.

Besides the record reserves here are a few other salient points. *With $3 billion in federal ARPA funding, the state has more money than it has ever seen. *This budget added over 1,200 full-time equivalent employees to favored programs. *The citizens will receive a TABOR refund, but only after a couple of other programs that have been ruled to qualify as "refunds" are fully funded.

In the serious problem category: *Undeniably, accelerating growth of government is a huge concern. *The expansion in departments that have clearly overgrown and overreached their mission needs to be looked at on a line-by-line basis. *The use of some, fortunately not all, of the onetime dollars to create or expand programs that will exist well beyond the four-year lifetime of those funds is not sustainable.

This all sets up what we call the structural deficit. Which basically means at some point in the future, sooner rather than later, there will not be enough revenue coming in to fund past and current commitments. This is what led me to another "no" vote on the budget this year.

I welcome your thoughts and comments on happenings here at the Capitol. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: [email protected], Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey

 

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