This week we’ve had our eyes on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and the Governor’s office as they take big steps on public education funding. The JBC hearings can be a LOT to dive into…so we’re here to summarize what’s been happening and what you need to pay attention to moving forward.
And just a reminder — to be an advocate, you don’t have to know all the ins-and-outs of school finance. We’re just giving you the skinny, so that you can dive in at a level that’s comfortable!
JBC Supplemental Bill Update
Over the past couple of weeks, we have talked about Representative Kipp’s amendment to the JBC’s supplemental bill (SB19-128). Here’s what’s happened so far:
What we’re now fighting for is for the JBC to either accept the amendment, or for them to ensure that the $77 million that is being taken out of K-12 this year will be dedicated to the education fund in the next fiscal year – not just dumped into the General Fund where it can be used for any purpose. We’ll keep you updated as things progress!
Uniform Mill Levy/Mill Levy Override Equalization:
What you need to know
Maybe you’ve heard some talk or seen some news stories about the inequities in school property taxes between Colorado school districts. Right now, for instance, school district property tax rates (called “mills”) that are paid into the state School Finance Act range from 1.6 mills to 27 mills. That enormous gap was created by the interaction of a number of formulas in Colorado’s constitution; nobody meant for it to happen, but that’s one of the many problems that comes from putting tax policy in the constitution.
The JBC has been talking for a few years about taking this on and last Wednesday, they actually started looking at a couple of draft bills to address it. We’re putting together a page on our website where you’ll be able to learn some more about it soon. For now, the most important thing to know is that Great Ed will keep you posted and give you ways to advocate for “mill levy equalization” legislation that will make sure that all the resulting increased property revenues are used to build a more adequate, equitable and sustainable school funding system.
These bills are in draft mode, and you can read the most current two drafts here. These two drafts would have to come to versions that are agreed upon by all six JBC members in order to be introduced as JBC bills.
Full-Day K is Kicking Off
It’s almost time! Governor Polis’s team expects the proposed bill for fully funding full-day kindergarten to be introduced within the next month and to be finalized by the last week of April. It is still unclear. If you want to get involved and join Great Ed in being a member of the full-day kindergarten coalition, Kindergarten Now!, you can visit their website to sign up for newsletters. You can also sign up to attend one of the several kickoff meetings, held in Golden, Westminster, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo.
If you have any questions about any of the above, or would like to get more involved at the Capitol with Great Ed, please don’t hesitate to contact email@example.com.