$77 million is much less than $672 million

Our friends at Great Ed recently sent this out. Worth noting is the very last item:

“$77 million was allocated to buy down the Budget Stabilization Factor. The current debt owed to students from this factor is $672 million.”

Amendment 73 had more support for education funding than ever before, losing by only about 200,000 votes. Every candidate and issue campaign used education funding as a major talking point. Educators across Colorado walked out and rallied at the Capitol last year and Denver teachers got a raise after a strike just a few months ago. And yet, only $77 million as a buy down of $672 million owed per year. It adds up. It adds up in staff salaries and in a child’s education and services.

If we were able to increase the buy down at $77 million every year (not likely, especially if there’s a recession), it would take 9 years to get back to funding education at what we did prior to the recession.

Here’s the email from Great Education Colorado:

With one month left in this year’s legislative session, this week was nothing short of eventful: the debrucing bills were up in their first committee hearings, the budget made its way through the House with some education wins, and Great Ed co-sponsored the Public Education Funding Lobby Day with over 45 advocates in attendance! Keep reading to learn more…

The Long Bill (SB19-207) passed through the House

Thursday demonstrated why the Long Bill is given its name, as the House debated through 89 amendments to the budget until almost 1am. We’ll spare you listening to 12 hours of recordings, below are what you need to know about education and the budget: 

  • $9 million was allocated to continue the work of the Education Leadership Council’s Priorities.
  • $185 million was confirmed for funding full-day Kindergarten. Though the bill to provide state funding for “Full-Day K” (HB19-1262) has not passed yet, there is funding allocated to make sure that if or when it does pass, it will have dollars to back it.
  • $77 million was allocated to buy down the Budget Stabilization Factor. The current debt owed to students from this factor is $672 million.

Pro Tip on the Long Bill: The budget process is a confusing one at the legislature. Below are the steps that the Long Bill goes through before it becomes law:

  1. First, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) creates a balanced budget based on expected revenues, current and expected caseload for various programs, what’s needed in the state, current legislation that would require new spending,, etc. 
  2. Then, the JBC bill goes to the the house of origin (this year the Senate, but it alternates each year), where legislators can pass amendments to the Long Bill. 
  3. After that, the bill is stripped of all amendments and the House gets to run its own amendments (many of which are the same amendments that the Senate ran). 
  4. Once the bill passes through the second chamber, it goes back to conference committee (which is the JBC), where the Committee decides which of the two versions of the bill to start with and then crafts a final version that, once again, balances revenues and expenditures.  Both chambers must then pass the JBC/Conference Committee’s final version of the bill, after which it will be sent to the Governor’s desk.