The latest revenue forecast shows continued growth with the state’s General Fund revenue expected to grow 7.4 percent in FY 2014-15 and 6.4 percent in FY 2015-16.
Projections show an increase of $80.9 million in FY 2014-15, or 0.8 percent higher than compared to the June 2014 forecast. Projections for FY 2015-16 are 1.3 percent, or $131 million higher.
“Colorado’s economy continues to expand at a pace that is among the best in the nation,” the Office of State Planning and Budget reported today. “The state’s concentration of individuals and businesses focused on products that are in high demand in today’s economy continues to feed economic growth. Colorado also benefits from a high degree of business dynamism, as well as a growing culture for innovation and collaboration among individuals and firms. However, not all parts of the state are experiencing the same degree of economic strength.”
Income taxes from wage withholdings and sales tax collections continue to grow at a solid pace due to Colorado’s economic expansion.
The state’s General Fund reserve now is projected to be $232.6 million above its required amount for FY 2014-15.
The state is projected to end FY 2013-14 with $235.8 million above its required amount based on preliminary information from the State Controller. All but $25 million of this money, which remains in the General Fund, is allocated to various cash funds, including $135.3 million to the Capital Construction Fund. Several higher education capital construction projects will proceed as a result.
TABOR revenue is forecast to be $48 million, or just 0.4 percent, below the Referendum C cap in the current fiscal year, which is within the normal range of possible forecast adjustments. TABOR revenue is forecast to exceed the cap by $133.1 million in FY 2015-16 and $239.4 million in FY 2016-17, meaning that a refund to taxpayers is required under this forecast, unless voters allow the State to retain the revenue.
Though a TABOR refund is projected, the money forecast to be available in the FY 2015-16 General Fund would allow for a 10.5 percent increase in appropriations. Meanwhile, under current law, as a result of the TABOR refunds in FY 2015-16 and FY 2016-17, SB 09-228 transfers will be reduced by half.
Under this forecast, in FY 2015-16, revenue above the Referendum C cap would be refunded through the State Earned Income Tax Credit to qualified taxpayers and the sales tax refund to all taxpayers. In FY 2016-17, revenue above the Referendum C cap would be refunded through a temporary income tax rate reduction and the sales tax refund.
Many indicators point to a continued economic expansion. A special set of unique circumstances, however, could result in an economic slowdown. One risk is less accommodative monetary policy. Also, current weaker global economic conditions, as well as continued geopolitical tensions, are concerns. Unexpected events surrounding these issues could have negative implications for the economy and result in revenue collections that are substantially different from this forecast. It is also important to note that even relatively small changes in the projected growth rate of revenue can materially impact the budget outlook.