Under the Dome: Wrapping up the budget for 2016-17
My budget work is slowing down and I’m focusing on other bills and issues for the next month.
Colorado’s fiscal year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30. Each year, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) starts the budget process in early November, meeting with each Colorado department to assess their budgetary needs for the upcoming year. Quarterly, (March, June, September and December) economists in the governor’s office and the Legislature release a state revenue forecast, which helps guide the JBC on how much revenue is available and what economic conditions should be considered for the state budget.
Following the March forecast, the JBC balances the upcoming budget to the anticipated revenue amount and presents the bill, known as the Long Bill, to the Legislature for consideration. Once the final bill is passed by both the House and Senate, the governor signs the bill into law.
After months of work, starting in November, the JBC presented the 2016-17 budget bill to both houses of the Legislature. The bill received a majority of the vote in both houses with several small amendments that will be considered by a conference committee this week. As one of six members on the JBC, I want to highlight some the significant figures that shape the upcoming year’s spending
The total state budget for 2016-2017 is $27.1 billion, which is $477.1 million more or a 1.8 percent increase from FY 2015-16. General Fund revenue (the product of sales and income tax) is $9.99 billion, which is $503 million more or a 5.3 percent increase from FY 2015-16. Colorado spends $5.4 billion of state revenues on K-12 education, and fortunately no cuts are expected to be made to K-12 or higher education in the upcoming budget. Colorado has 1,385,891 Medicaid recipients, requiring more than $9 billion of state and federal money, roughly 33 percent of our total state budget for our share.
No Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) refund is expected to be required under next year’s budget, although small forecast changes can still impact refunds since we are near the spending limit.
Total recreational and medical marijuana tax revenue is projected to be $131 million in fiscal year 2015-2016, which will be spent in ‘16-17 for school capital projects and for prevention and treatment programs.
Other than budget issues, I continue to represent you on Western Slope issues. I introduced a bill last week to prevent future sweeps of severance taxes to the general fund. These taxes should be distributed to counties, but have been “swept” to the general fund in past years.
I also jointly introduced a bill, now in the Senate, to study the creation of a single insurance rate area in the state. Our local rates are as much as 40 percent higher than Front Range areas. A great team of county commissioners is leading this effort.
I’m continuing to ask the Department of Public Health and Environment on behalf of my many constituents employed by fossil fuel industries what the state is doing to implement the Clean Power Plan, which was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
I’ve been working with Rep. Millie Hamner all year to raise awareness of the many issues and problems surrounding school finance. We are in the process now of defining a path forward. While most school administrators complain of the “negative factor” and demand more money, I believe our finance formula is flawed and needs updating before we commit more resources. This is perhaps the most important issue in our budgeting process and I’m committed to sticking with it to the benefit of our 861,000, K-12 students and their teachers.
Stay in touch.
“Under the Dome” appears on the second Tuesday of the month. State Rep. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican, is in his first term in the state Legislature representing House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.