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Colorado Economic Forecast Grim

State economists are warning that the risks of a double-dip recession are rising in Colorado.  A new revenue forecast out Tuesday from the non-partisan Legislative Council shows that the state’s economy is still growing, but at a very slow rate.The quarterly Economic and Revenue forecast predicts that Colorado will be in the black in the coming months by about $300 million.  But the legislature’s chief economist Natalie Mullis says those numbers could quickly swing into the red if Medicaid case loads continue to rise, or if consumer spending continues to slump. 


"The takeaway for the economy is that it’s going to be slow and the risks of the recession are rising," Mullis said. "The takeaway for the budget is that there’s going to be continued tough years ahead."  

Mullis says the situation here would be a lot worse were it not for strong growth in some of the state’s rural areas - namely northeastern Colorado where oil production is booming and farmers are fetching high prices for crops. 

The forecast was presented to the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, which will use the projections as it starts to plan next year’s budget. 

Democratic leaders said the numbers show the state continues to face challenges. 

"Democrats will continue fighting for working families to create jobs and restore Colorado's economy,  balancing the budget will require the legislature to make many difficult choices," said JBC chair Sen. Mary Hodge (D-Brighton), in a statement.

Republicans said the revenue projections reaffirmed that tax increases shouldn’t be considered while the economy continues to suffer.

Instead, we need policies that will help get our economy back on track and keep government spending in check," said Rep. Cheri Gerou (R-Evergreen), vice chair of the committee, in a statement.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.