Colorado budget deficit looms ahead of 2016 legislative session

New estimates put projected budget deficit as high as $208 million, forcing talks about spending cuts

A daunting number will loom at the Capitol when Colorado lawmakers return in January for the legislative session: $208 million.

The figure represents the high-end projection for the current fiscal year’s deficit, according to the latest legislative economic forecast released Monday.

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office estimates a smaller $157 million shortfall, which is roughly what it anticipated when it debuted a $27 billion budget plan in November. But either forecast will force state budget writers to tap reserve accounts and trim next year’s spending plan in key priority areas.

“We haven’t had a year where we’ve been short of the reserve in quite a long time, so the extent to which we are short will affect how much we have for the next year,” said state budget director Henry Sobanet. The governor’s office estimates the deficit will prompt about $373 million in spending cuts for fiscal year 2016-17.


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