No on HB1221

A huge thanks and round of applause to Jonna for testifying today against HB 1221. Thanks to her efforts and some of our great Jeffco legislators, this bill died today.

Here’s her testimony on behalf of SJK:

Thank you Madame 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, which makes up almost a 10th of the state’s student population in public schools.

We strongly oppose House Bill 1221.

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, which is a goal our state has yet to accomplish.

We oppose any changes to public school funding in Colorado that would use public, taxpayer dollars for vouchers, tax credits, Education

Savings Accounts or any other tool used for privatizing public education.

This would include the change introduced by House Bill 1221, which would modify the state income tax deduction for 529 account contributions for PRIVATE K-12 education .

We believe HB 1221 is, quite simply, a back door Voucher.

This bill essentially acts as a means for taxpayers to funnel funds for tax-free private K-12 tuition. Instead of writing a check directly to a private school for tuition of up to $10,000, the taxpayer can avoid paying state income taxes on those dollars by depositing funds first into a 529, and then withdrawing those same dollars from the 529 to pay the tuition – same year, same month, or even the same day.

Additionally, according to the Fiscal Impact Statement, this bill is estimated to reduce Colorado General Fund revenue by between $0.3 million and $1.2 million in the current Fiscal Year 2017-18; and between $4.0 million and $15.0 million in Fiscal Year 2018-19, FY 2019-20, and subsequent fiscal years.

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’s 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 HB 1221.