Legislative Council Staff and the Office of Planning and Budgeting delivered updated economic and revenue forecasts. With an expected 25% reduction in overall revenue, in addition to other factors, a $3.3 billion shortfall in the state budget is expected heading into next year. Additionally, based on projected declines in local shares and mill levy overrides, significant impacts for education funding is expected. Given this landscape and the ensuing cuts to services and programs, A+ joined 40 organizations in Colorado calling for federal support for local and state governments.
Without any promised federal support, the Joint Budget Committee has been meeting to discuss places in the state budget to cut spending to meet these revenue projections. State education spending makes up about 36% of the Colorado General Fund spending. While this proportion is lower than previous years (in 2013, 40% of the General Fund was spent on education), it is clear that cuts will occur. The Joint Budget Committee recommended elimination or reduction of many new and grant-funded programs, including two that A+ following closely – eliminating the budget request to increase funds for school improvement and eliminating investments in increased transparency for families about schools. However, it is increasingly likely that funding cuts to school districts will be more widespread and include increasing the budget stabilization factor (and decreasing the amount of money that is allocated through the current school funding formula).
The legislature has now committed to returning May 26th. We will continue to follow discussions as they unfold quickly.