2021 Legislative Session Primer

Here’s a great primer as we get ready for 2021 Legislative Session

We know it feels like our efforts are heavily focused on school funding.  That’s because so much of what public schools need to do or can do is based on what kind of dollars they have to do it with.  This is something we know you are all well aware of  –  we realize we are singing to the choir.

Our budget process is torture for legislators to navigate –

and it’s almost impossible for its general citizens to understand, thanks to a variety of voter decisions (since about 1982) to add to or change our state constitution:   TABOR, Amendment 23, Gallagher Amendment .  And since public schools are funded primarily by the state and local funding, these 3 amendments are especially impactful. It’s no exaggeration in saying school funding is confusing and convoluted in Colorado.

Colorado’s general assembly goes into real action February 16th.  Legislators are getting bills lined up to introduce, and there’s a lot of attention on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) – especially since they have been actively meeting to begin work on the K-12 Supplemental and prepping for their work on the Long Bill.

As a primer for the upcoming legislative session, we encourage you to read this  Colorado Sun article by Brian Eason.  He has done a stellar job of making sense of Colorado’s budget and how decisions are made on spending (or cutting) in this Jan. 25, 2021 article:

Colorado’s state budget drives decisions that affect us all, but it’s long and complicated

Check out this Colorado Sun article

As Eason points out, “the General Fund is the core of the state’s budget. The majority of the state’s income and sales taxes flow into the $11 billion spending account, which is used to fund …key public services, such as schools, prison, and health care.”

Side Note: According to the Colorado Fiscal Institute, in 2018, K-12 education accounts for 38% of the General Fund spending.  https://www.coloradofiscal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Colorado-Fiscal-Institutes-Budget-Basics-2018.pdf – pg. 11

Eason wraps up his article with the Budget Stabilization Factor:

“Since 2010, state lawmakers have authorized a cumulative $9.3 billion in school funding cuts…In the current fiscal year ending June 2021, the budget stabilization factor is $1.2 billion.”

Side Note: Our public schools are primarily funded by the state and local resources/taxes.   According to Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_school_funding_in_the_United_States

“State and local role in education funding:

According to the US Department of Education, the Federal Government contributes about 8% to funding US public schools.  To fund the remaining balance per student in the public education System, state and local governments are mandated to allocate money towards education.”

If you are interested in a more in-depth look at Colorado’s budget, Legislative Council Staff has posted this link: Understanding the State Budget – The Big Picture

https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/2020_understanding_the_state_budget_information_paper.pdf

Thanks to you all for being such wonderful advocates for our kids and schools!

“They say, if you want to know what a community values, look at how its children are treated.  If you want a sense of what a community hopes for the future, look at how it values its schools.”  Colorado Education Network