Now is the time to fund public K-12 in Colorado

The legislature has revenue it can’t spend and could increase funding for K-12 without raising taxes.

In this opinion piece by Amie Baca-Oehlert, The state owes schools money. Time to pay up. https://coloradonewsline.com/2022/03/21/state-owes-schools-money-time-to-pay-up/  she reminds us “Colorado’s public education system is on the brink of crisis…”

Baca-Oehlert provides a laundry list of the impact our underfunding has had on our education system:

  • teachers and support staff didn’t – and still don’t – have what they need…reasonable class sizes, updated textbooks, and paychecks that often don’t even pay the bills.
  • before the pandemic, many students, especially students of color, weren’t getting the education they deserve,
  • Special education has been grossly underfunded. 
  • Years of inadequate mental health support for our students.
  • The lack of funding, inadequate conditions and burnout has led to a critical educator shortage, and as they flee the profession, we’re struggling to replace them.

“All of this means we have unsustainable teaching and learning conditions.”

Our schools have been short-changed for over a decade when it comes to funding.  Advocates for public education make the case – Every. Single. Year. But little has changed.   

As reported by the Colorado Sun (Jan. 2021) “Since 2010, state lawmakers have built up an impressive I.O.U. through the budget device, tallying $9.3 billion in unpaid debts to the state’s school districts, including $1.2 billion this fiscal year alone.”

https://coloradosun.com/2021/01/27/capitol-sunlight-education-finance-colorado/

Great Education Colorado does a deeper dive into how we got there (Amendment 23 and the Budget Stabilization Factor https://www.greateducation.org/statistics-faqs/funding-faqs/)

“…for the 2020-21 school year, the negative factor was responsible for a $1,310 reduction in per pupil funding,..That has resulted in larger class sizes, narrower curriculum, reduced instruction time, and less support and individual attention for students.”

Which brings us to the “proposed citizens ballot initiative that would set aside certain revenues already collected by the state to be used to attract, retain and pay teachers and student-support professionals.”   As pointed out, in this opinion piece by proponents D.J. Anderson and Lea Steed, “…the Colorado State Title Board cleared the way for our proposed initiative to collect voter signatures to qualify for the 2022 state ballot.” https://coloradosun.com/2022/03/20/eduation-teacher-pay-taxes-opinion/?mc_cid=d066fe9fe9&mc_eid=72f431c762

The Chalkbeat reported (March 4, 2022) when the paperwork was initially filed: 

“Advocates filed paperwork Thursday to place an initiative on the November ballot that could generate somewhere between $820 million and $1.1 billion for K-12 schools without raising taxes.”

“State economists currently expect the state to return $4.7 billion to taxpayers between now and 2025. Meanwhile, the state funds its schools below the national average, with lawmakers holding back more than $10 billion from K-12 education since the Great Recession to pay for other priorities.”

 https://co.chalkbeat.org/2022/3/4/22961334/tabor-tax-refunds-colorado-school-funding-ballot-measure 

Why we must do this now:

 

  • It would provide a sustainable funding source for public (K-12) education
  • There would be NO increase in tax rates
  • Because of the size of the surplus, taxpayers would still receive rebates

*The measure is statutory – not constitutional – and so is not subject to the heightened “Raise the Bar” requirements: it needs only 50%+1 votes at the ballot to pass; if the measure is initiated, there is no requirement for signatures to be gathered in every Senate District; and to be referred by the legislature, only a simple majority in each house would be required. 

Baca-Oehlert makes the case why we need to do this (public education advocates have been making this case for years).  Anderson and Steed are sharing with you the importance of doing it now.   We join them in asking you to join us and help us make this happen.

Support Jeffco Kids is proud to be one of the many organizations working with Anderson and Steed to make this a reality.  

For more information, please feel free to contact: admin@supportjeffcokids.org