As the Denver Post reports:
Just when it seemed Colorado’s economy was improving, tax collections are backsliding and there are new worries the state budget will be $150 million to $300 million deeper in the hole than expected, a top lawmaker warned Thursday.
As a result, colleges and universities – spared from cuts during the legislative session – might take a hit next year, said Sen. Moe Keller, D-Wheat Ridge, chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee…
The prospect of renewed budget woes also has added fuel to discussions about long-term fiscal solutions that could include tax hikes or changes to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in the state constitution. [Pols emphasis]
State tax collections for May were $77 million below projections, Keller said, and economists believe income-tax payments that are still being collected may come up as much as $80 million less than expected.
Legislative leaders say that probably means the state will be short in the current budget year that ends June 30, a prospect that could require an emergency withdrawal of cash funds slated for the next year’s budget, which begins July 1.
The Post goes on to note that while legislators were reluctant to get something comprehensive in terms of TABOR and budget reform in front of voters this session, there is a growing realization that political expediency or no, the state can’t wait until 2011 to deal with the problem.
If a comprehensive constitutional fix emerges in 2010 for the state’s interlocking budgetary restrictions and conflicting mandates, it will be the biggest fight between the state’s ideological machinery seen at least since 2005’s Referendum C, and probably much bigger–it won’t be the temporary stopgap measure Referendum C was, and because of Referendum C’s impending expiration it will have a sense of urgency behind it that last year’s Amendment 59 didn’t. It will be viewed on both sides as a battle for the state’s very soul and future, and we could end up talking about it every bit as much as the gubernatorial race itself.
Or maybe they’ll already be inextricably linked by then anyway? You can imagine what Josh Penry will have to say about any attempt to spit-roast the sacred cow of TABOR.