What’s happening at the Capitol this week?
It’s been a whirlwind of a week at the legislature! Starting the week off with a bang, the JBC took public comment on the state budget for the first time ever. The middle of the week remained interesting as Governor Polis made the decision to allow the Denver teachers’ strike to begin on Monday, February 11. Keep reading to learn more!
Joint Budget Committee
The Joint Budget Committee (JBC) listened to over three hours of public testimony on Monday afternoon and the message was loud and clear — education is one of the most important issues to voters in Colorado today. The majority of testimonies were focused around the Governor’s ask for funding full-day Kindergarten, and Great Education Colorado had three advocates asking the JBC to find a way to fund our schools with increased revenue. Great Ed activists asked for increased funding for English Language Learners, Special Education, at-risk students, Gifted and Talented programs, Rural Schools, and more — and we know the only way to do that is through an increase in revenue. Couldn’t make it to the hearing on Monday? You can still let the JBC know your thoughts taking this email action. Thank you to the JBC for opening the floor to hear public comment!
Education Bills & Committees
- HB19-1055 Public School Capital Construction Financial Assistance, a bill supported by Great Ed, passed through House Education with a 12-1 vote.
- This bill would make it possible for schools to have more longterm, foundational funding for classrooms and other building needs through increasing funding to the BEST bill by shifting additional marijuana excise tax.
- HB19-1112 Child Safety Accounts and SB19-087 Students Subjected To A School Safety Incident, two hidden voucher bills, were killed in State, Veteran & Military Affairs.
- The Joint Education Committee heard from the Colorado Department of Education (CD) on the state of the teacher shortage in Colorado, acknowledging that the issue of a falling amount of teachers still stands, despite the best efforts of the legislature and CDE.
- Up next week…
- The Denver teacher strike will begin on Monday, February 11 after Gov. Polis’s decision to allow the strike.
- SB19-009 Financial Incentives For Rural Educators will be heard on Thursday, February 14 in House Education.
Legislator Highlight of the Week: Senator Rachel Zenzinger
This week, we highlight Senator Zenzinger representing Senate district 19! A long-time proponent of public education, Sen. Zenzinger has for years acknowledged the real issues our state has regarding the funding of our public schools. Sen. Zenzinger has been an incredible partner of Great Ed, always willing to tackle issues of school funding head on. We couldn’t be happier to see her serving on the Joint Budget Committee because we know that we have an advocate for public education funding as the state budget is created. To quote Sen. Zenzinger directly:
“Delivering on the Governor’s pledge for full day kindergarten, paying down the negative factor, addressing our teacher shortage, and finding a sustainable way to meet our commitment to Special Education, all the while factoring in our other priorities in Colorado – it will take a number of serious conversations, but we are having them this year, and I am very hopeful we will see results.” – Sen. Rachel Zenzinger
You can hear directly from Sen. Zenzinger by attending her next town hall (details here). Thank you, Senator, for continuing to fight for our public schools!