DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado’s population has boomed in the last 20 years and so has its budget.
Colorado has never had a larger budget, according to an analysis of previous budgets by the Common Sense Institute, a non-partisan free market think tank. The Centennial State’s total appropriations for the 2023 fiscal year come to $37.4 billion.
The biggest chunk of growth by far has been in the health care budget. Health care policy and financing appropriations grew from $2.5 billion in 2003 to $14.2 billion in 2023.
Health care policy and financing is now the single largest slice of Colorado’s budget representing more than a third of appropriations. A large portion of this can be chalked up to an increase in federal funding from the Affordable Care Act.
Education used to be the largest chunk of the budget. In 2003, it was one-fourth of appropriations. Now, it’s 18%.
Some of this growth can be attributed to the simple fact that there are more people in Colorado. Between 2003 and 2023, the Colorado population will have grown by more than one million people. Budgets naturally rise as more demands are made for state services.
The population growth alone, however, doesn’t account for how much the budget has risen. Colorado isn’t just appropriating more money, but more money per Coloradan.
In 2003, the state appropriated $4,955 per person. This fiscal year, the state is appropriating $6,333 per person.