The Common Sense Institute is out Friday with the fourth of its annual big-picture analyses of Colorado's state budget, as lawmakers prepared to deal with an uncertain future when they return to Denver for the next regular session next month.

"Colorado Budget: Then and Now" is available by clicking here.

The study looks at how the state's spending has changed over the past 20 years. Information in the report is expected to make readers ask "why" questions, according to the Denver-based business and policy think tank.

Among the report's takeaways:

  • Health care spending has grown 457% over the last 20 years, while the Colorado population grew 29%
  • Adjusted for inflation, total state spending per Coloradan increased 65% during that time, or from $3,222 to $5,317.
  • From the 2019 budget to the current on, total appropriations grew 8.6%, before dropping 3.4% in the current budget year. The governor's recent budget requests show a 6.2% increase in total appropriations for next year.
  • In the past two budgets, higher education spending decreased 46%, while spending for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing grew 7%. Other departments, including corrections and human services, shrank less than 6% during that time.

The state's current annual budget is $30.6 billion. About $10 billion of that is federal money that passes through the state budget, according to the Common Sense Institute report. The state's operating budget, called the general fund, is $10.8 billion.

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