A Mom’s Take on the 2015 Legislative Session

Here’s a Mother’s Day observation: Advocating at the Capitol is a lot like parenting. It takes patience, persistence and consistency. You have to be clear in your expectations and you aren’t always certain that you’re actually being heard — though in the long-run you often find that you got the message across.

And just like parenting, it’s important to celebrate the day-to-day advocacy victories, even though your job isn’t done.

That’s the story of this legislative session:

1 We sent a consistent message.

Together, we communicated our demand for better funding of schools to the legislature by sending more than 6,000 emails, having hundreds of direct conversations, and delivering over 3,000 petition signatures and 600 stories to the Capitol.

2 We made progress.

  • $281M added to keep up with inflation and new enrollment in K-12
  • $25 million (or $56 per pupil) toward paying back the debt we owe our kids, the “negative factor”
  • $10 million additional dollars for rural schools
  • $5 million additional funding for at-risk students
  • A legislative promise in the School Finance Act (SB15-267) that increased school property tax revenues as calculated in December of this year will be used to supplement school funding — a promise we’ll work to enforce next year
  • $100 million increase for higher education

3 Our job isn’t done.

  • The legislature did nothing to “keep the surplus for kids.” Instead, the state will provide small “TABOR” rebates to taxpayers while leaving in place a massive school funding gap.
  • Colorado is still spending $1,000 less per student than required to keep up with inflation from six years ago.
  • The legislature killed a bill (HB15-1334) that would have created a two-year legislative process to develop an adequate, equitable and sustainable school finance system.
  • Efforts to provide full-day Kindergarten and to increase Colorado Preschool Program slots were defeated.

We’ll be spending the summer and fall building awareness, setting up school tours and constituent meetings for legislators, and preparing public school supporters like you to ensure that, next year, Colorado will address this unfinished business.

In sum, though the year was “a bit of a disappointment” on school funding, we made short-term gains and laid the groundwork for continuing progress toward a Colorado where every student graduates ready for the world.

Thank you for making this year’s successes possible and for recognizing that — just like raising confident, successful, and well-rounded children — successful advocacy takes time and continuing commitment.  In both cases, the payoff is worth it.

Stay tuned for next steps toward bigger victories for Colorado’s kids!

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