Colorado revenue $160M higher than projected

The state of Colorado’s general fund revenue is projected to be $159.6 million higher in the current fiscal year than was forecast in September, the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting said Thursday.

The office also said in its report that Northern Colorado’s economy remains “one of the strongest in the state.” Growth in retail continues to be among the highest in the state.

Employment also is growing in Northern Colorado, according to the report. The Fort Collins-Loveland and Greeley areas added 7,300 new jobs from January to October.

In the Fort Collins-Loveland area, employment grew 2.3 percent in the first 10 months of the year. Greeley employment increased 1.8 percent.

Meanwhile, livestock production declined 9.6 percent in October over year-ago levels and will probably fall more toward the end of the year, the report says.

Northern Colorado’s real estate market continues to improve as the distressed market in Larimer and Weld counties steadily decreases. Sales and prices have increased over last year while inventory remains low but has grown.

New residential construction permits remained strong through September in the metro areas. Single-family permits in the Fort Collins-Loveland area surged 49.6 percent compared with the first nine months of last year. Single-family permits increased 57.9 percent in the Greeley area.

Nonresidential projects will add one million square feet to the region’s inventory. Construction on the Leprino cheese factory in Greeley continues to drive the city’s commercial growth.

Excess funds in the new revenue forecast will carry over into next year’s budget and will be transferred to the State Education Fund, which supports per-pupil funding in Colorado school districts.

Based on Gov. John Hickenlooper’s budget request, the new available money for fiscal year 2013-14 is $142.7 million. The governor will ask that the increased funds go to education, economic development, public health, safety and infrastructure.

“Colorado is among the top states in economic performance due to its favorable mix of industries and skilled and entrepreneurial population,” the report says. “Though unemployment remains a challenge, the state’s economy appears to be further along in rebuilding from the Great Recession.”

The report comes as federal lawmakers face an end-of-the-year deadline to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff. The state’s forecast assumes an agreement will be reached that includes smaller tax increases and spending reductions than currently scheduled.

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