Governor’s 2013-14 budget proposal begins restoring cuts, but some major questions remain

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Governor John Hickenlooper’s proposal for the state budget would begin restoring some of the cuts from recent years that have harmed state services. But his spending plan for the year that begins July 1 does not address a couple of major issues that will certainly face lawmakers as they begin deliberating over the 2013-14 budget later this month.  

The 2013-14 budget proposed by Hickenlooper would total $20.3 billion (that excludes the money counted twice in the category known as reappropriated funds) and would be a little more than $1 billion, or 5.4 percent, larger than the current budget.

The greatest source of that growth in spending is expected to come from the federal government. Federal spending accounts for roughly a quarter of the state budget. That portion would grow by eight percent, while the portion funded by state tax revenue, the General Fund, would grow by just five percent.

But major changes to the budget are still possible, if not likely. Omitted from the budget proposal are two issues that are certain to become part of the mix as the General Assembly considers amendments: scheduled federal budget cuts and the expansion of Medicaid. In addition, Congress could enact some form of federal tax reform that could directly affect state revenue, perhaps in a positive way.