COLORADO FISCAL POLICY
Colorado’s fiscal system has a structural imbalance - created by inherently conflicting constitutional mandates - that will continue to widen the gap between General Fund revenue and necessary expenditures. Even as Colorado’s economy improves, the imbalance, although unintentional, will persist because of contradictory constitutional provisions initiated and passed by Colorado voters at different points in time. In spite of ongoing efforts to create new efficiencies, reduce expenditures, and stimulate job growth, it has become evident that Colorado cannot rectify this structural fiscal imbalance simply with budgetary cuts and/or stimulating economic growth. This fact was made clear by a report on Colorado’s fiscal condition prepared by the University of Denver’s Center for Colorado’s Economic Future at the request of the Colorado General Assembly. The authors of the report, now located at Colorado State University, have recently updated and endorsed these conclusions. This thoughtful and nonpartisan analysis of the state’s fiscal condition led the Colorado Forum to conclude that Colorado voters must amend the conflicting constitutional provisions that have created the fiscal problems we now face.
Until additional resources are generated, recurring budget cuts will continue to jeopardize some of the state’s most important projects and services, including our higher education institutions and our transportation infrastructure. Coloradans need to determine what state services they wish to preserve and what they are prepared to eliminate, given these fiscal constraints.
The Colorado Forum has been deeply engaged on matters of state fiscal policy for more than two decades. The Forum convened the Fiscal Planning Project which worked to examine the state’s financial situation, inform Coloradans about the fiscal challenges facing the state, and develop options for viable solutions. In 2015, the Forum, along with other civic and business leaders, initiated a research, education, and outreach endeavor, Building a Better Colorado. Building a Better Colorado is a statewide nonpartisan effort to engage Coloradans in a conversation about key policy areas for improving our state, including state fiscal policy. The initiative is exploring the imbalance between citizens’ expectations of the services that government should provide and the ability of their government to meet those expectations.
NATIONAL FISCAL POLICY
The nation’s growing debt is a serious threat to the economic well-being and national security of the United States. It is urgent and essential that our leaders in Congress and the President of the United States put in place a plan that will address our debt, meet our financial obligations, and care for our most vulnerable citizens.
Understanding that solutions to the country’s fiscal challenges rest largely in Washington, the Colorado Forum has focused its efforts on galvanizing the Colorado business community to engage members of Congress and the White House to demonstrate the bipartisan leadership necessary to meet these challenges. We have worked to organize the business community to communicate with representatives in Washington, urging them to make this their top priority. The Colorado Forum has worked for more than a decade with many organizations in an effort to address our country’s fiscal policy challenges. Each year the members of the Forum travel to Washington to engage with policy makers on myriad issues important to Colorado and the country. This issue of fiscal responsibility has been paramount on that agenda.