A day before voters decide whether to give him another term, Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday unveiled a $26.8 billion state budget proposal for the next fiscal year that includes about $200 million in rebates to taxpayers.
The Democrat’s spending plan represents $1.7 billion in new spending in federal and state money, a 7 percent increase from the current fiscal year budget.
The $908 million in new state spending includes $103 million for road projects, $107 million in additional funds for higher education and a 2 percent pay hike for most state employees.
The new money available reflects Colorado’s improving economy, but tax collections also exceeded the state’s revenue cap under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — triggering rebates for the first time in 15 years.
Hickenlooper’s budget puts aside $167.2 million for a TABOR rebate in the fiscal year 2015-16 budget, which state law directs toward a tax credit for low-income workers and sales tax refunds.
The constitutional provision mandates refunds when revenue exceeds the rate of inflation and population growth, unless voters decide to return the money.
Hickenlooper sidestepped the question about how to rebate another $30.5 million in excess recreational marijuana taxes, leaving it to state lawmakers to decide.