Annual transparency report details early days of recession’s impact on Colorado economy

Colorado State Treasurer Cary Kennedy released the fourth annual State Taxpayer Accountability Report (STAR), which provides information on the state’s revenues and expenditures during the previous fiscal year. In the FY 2008 – 2009 STAR report, data spanning the first months of the Great Recession is analyzed, allowing government officials and citizens to understand how it affected Colorado’s economy.

According to the STAR report, released Wednesday, Colorado’s unemployment rate jumped more than 3 percent from June 2008 to June 2009 – translating to a year-over-year loss of more than 104,000 jobs statewide. Revenue loss for Fiscal Year 2008-09 in the state followed national trends downward, resulting in a decline of over $1 billion.

To combat these revenue declines, the state enacted a series of spending cuts and budget enhancements meant to triage the fiscal emergency. According to the report, approximately $346.9 million in came in the form of transfers from state cash funds for budgeted items, another $12.5 million represented revenue enhancements and $458.1 was a cash fund transfer at the end of the fiscal year to ensure the budget was in balance after the legislature adjourned. The 2009 budget also reflected about $389.7 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, which spared Higher Education from a potential $150 million budget cut, the report detailed.

This year’s STAR also looks the impact of the recession on the state’s energy sector, demographic trends, and how Colorado compares with other states.

“The STAR’s purpose is to keep government accessible and accountable,” Ms. Kennedy said in a statement. “We are making information available so the people of Colorado can see exactly how their tax dollars are being used.”

The STAR report is part of an overall effort by the Treasurer’s office and the Governor to bring more citizens into budget and revenue conversations. Last March, the state launched Colorado Tax Tracks – an interactive website, intended to show taxpayers a clear line from their paycheck to their communities.

“If the citizens are paying for public services like education, infrastructure improvements, health and medical care, they should be able to see how and where it’s being used,” Ms. Kennedy told CivSource in the March interview.

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