Report dims outlook for state-funded construction

Few if any state-funded construction projects will get off the ground this year without an infusion of outside money or a spike in sales tax receipts, fiscal analysts told state lawmakers during a hearing Tuesday.

“The punch line is revenues are extraordinarily limited for capital construction, even though the needs are not diminishing,” Todd Saliman, director of the governor’s Office of State Planning and Budget, told the Capital Development Committee.

Saliman said the only project the governor wants to start this year is an Aurora residential-care center for veterans.

He said the majority of the $17.4 million the governor has asked the state to shift from its general spending account into its construction fund will be used to finish projects already being built.

Pressed by state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, Saliman said there is a possibility sales tax receipts related to holiday shopping could come in over his office’s forecasts and leave some money for construction.

Nonetheless, he said lawmakers will have to wait to see the December revenue forecast projects before planning for any more projects.

In the meantime, the Capital Development Committee, whose membership includes Sen. Josh Penry, R-Grand Junction, will be forced to divvy up next to no resources.

The committee chairman, Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, joked with another witness during the day’s hearing that his committee should be expected to hold only brief hearings throughout the year as long as its revenue forecasts show scant resources.

“When there are zeros, you don’t talk long,” Riesberg told David Skaggs, director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.


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