HB20-1034 SJK Testimony Against Vouchers

Thank you Chair and committee members.   My name is Jonna Levine, I am co-chair/co-founder of Support Jeffco Kids.  Our focus is on the importance of supporting public education for ALL 86,000 plus kids in Jeffco, the 2nd largest school district in the state.

We strongly oppose House Bill 20-1034.

We hold, as a basic principle, that  public, taxpayer dollars for public education must stay in public schools; and that our students who choose public schools be funded adequately and equitably, with sustainable funds, which is a goal our state has yet to accomplish.

And therefore, we oppose any changes to public school funding in Colorado or modification to the Colorado state income tax law that would use public, taxpayer dollars for vouchers, tax credits, Education Savings Accounts or any other tool used for privatizing public education.

School Voucher programs fund private schools and services using public tax dollars.  “Back-door Vouchers” like House Bill 1034,  do the same thing, allow public school dollars to be diverted to private school programs or used for tuition for private and/or religious schools, but in a less conspicuous manner.  This bill even reads:  “… QUALIFIED ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY TUITION EXPENSES RELATED TO ENROLLMENT OR ATTENDANCE AT AN ELEMENTARY OR SECONDARY PUBLIC, PRIVATE, OR RELIGIOUS SCHOOL…”

The bill seeks to change Colorado law to align it with the federal Tax Cuts & Job Acts, implemented under Betsy DeVos’ blessing and guidance in 2017, which equated to nothing more than Federally-supported School Vouchers.”

We believe contributions to a 529 account should remain as originally intended, for “qualified higher education expenses.”

This is Colorado, the land of TABOR, afterall.  Surplus dollars in the General Fund are an anomaly,  limited, and, as in this year, there are always competing priorities for those dollars.

As elected officials, you are the stewards of our taxpayer dollars.  It is your responsibility to protect and fund our public entities and infrastructure such as K-12 public education first.

We ask that you continue in your support for public K-12 education and vote NO on HB20-1034.

 

Thank you.