Tighter Economic Forecast Means State Budget Needs More Trims

<p>(Hart Van Denburg/CPR News)</p>
<p>The Colorado State Capitol.</p>

The weak global economy and low oil and gas prices are taking an increasing toll on Colorado’s economy, according to a new forecast released by state economists Friday. That could mean problems for the state budget down the line.

The forecast downgrades Colorado’s expected rate of growth slightly, meaning lawmakers will either have to find cuts or draw down the state’s reserves a bit.

But the legislature has already taken important belt-tightening measures, says Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, who serves on the legislature’s budget committee.

"I think the best news, as I said, is we would be [in] a lot worse shape if we hadn’t been working really, really hard on this year’s budget in January," he said.

When it comes to next year’s spending plan, there’s not likely to be much money for new programs.

"Everyone wants to know: will their bill get funded?" said budget committee chair Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon. "I think we still don’t have enough information right now to be able to answer that. I think it’s still going to be a competitive budgeting process."