WASHINGTON -- The next economic downturn could hit Rocky Mountain states particularly hard because their budgets have swelled the most due to rapid growth in the region, a new report from the Conference Board said.

"Since the Rocky Mountain region has almost certainly been growing at an unsustainable rate, the inevitable slowdown will likely create budget difficulties, forcing tax increases and spending cuts which will exacerbate the slump," said Jason Bram, an economist with the New York-based research group and author of the report that was released yesterday.

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