A fascinating story by the Colorado Springs Gazette‘s Megan Schrader will make this year’s already difficult campaign to raise taxes by a billion dollars even more difficult.

The headline itself pretty much sums it up: “Flush with cash, Colorado officials back tax hike.”

Schrader reports that the state’s coffers swelled by $1.1 billion this year, essentially undermining the entire argument for raising taxes.

After some lean recession years, this year Colorado lawmakers were swimming in cash – a $1.1 billion pool of unspent dollars over what budget forecasters had predicted…

The 2012-13 fiscal year had a huge surplus – $1.1 billion – all of which will go into the state Education Fund – an account which receives about 7.5 percent of the state’s income tax revenue directly for the sole use of education. And the June revenue forecast estimated about $112.1 million in surplus will go to the fund at the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

“The Education Fund is healthier than it’s been in years,” [Democratic Senator Pat] Steadman said.

It is expected to get healthier. At the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year the Education Fund is expected to have $1.6 billion in reserves.

How is the tax hike campaign going to make the argument that education is severely underfunded when the “Education Fund” is expected to have $1.6 billion in reserves by the end of next school year?

There will be a lot of numbers tossed out during the tax hike campaign, but one set will make things pretty clear for the Colorado electorate: we have a billion dollars more this year than last, so why do we need another billion from a tax increase?