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Cash has been flowing into some state government accounts at higher-than-anticipated levels. That sounds like good news, but it could actually worsen the state's already-tight budget picture.
Legislative staff economists say the additional cash could put the state about $52 million short of being able to cover the $5.7 billion in general-fund spending approved in the current budget year.
Money going into the state's cash funds counts against the overall revenue-growth caps set by the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. That means the higher cash-fund income is driving up the TABOR refunds that taxpayers will receive in the spring of 2006. TABOR refunds have to come from the general fund because cash-fund money is earmarked for specific programs.
Legislative economists are predicting that the state will refund about $161.3 million to taxpayers in the 2005-06 budget year unless voters agree to let the state keep some of that amount.