This is not a drill!
Before we dive into this week’s legislative update, I want to remind everyone why we do what we do.
Read the investigation and full report from The Colorado Sun here.
Our students’ mental health is a top concern, and one of the major reasons we MUST continue to fight with passion and urgency to secure the funding our schools so desperately need. With additional funding, Colorado public schools can hire the necessary professionals to support students academically, socially and emotionally.
Funding for schools is about so much more than numbers on a spreadsheet and votes made by a committee – it is about protecting all Colorado students and empowering them to live their best lives.
The actions you take as public education advocates, the opportunities you take to raise your voice and support Colorado kids, all of those moments matter in protecting our kids.
Call to Action
Yesterday Senator Rankin introduced an amendment that would add $30 million in funding for rural schools, but the Joint Budget Committee decided not to vote that amendment into law. Rural schools aren’t the only schools that are struggling. We need to act, and ask the legislature to commit to more funding to our public schools, and we have just the way for you to do that.
Bills We’re Watching
HB19-1262 State Funding for Full-Day Kindergarten passed through House Education unanimously on Tuesday afternoon! Great Ed, along with countless other organizations, was there to testify on why ALL of our students deserve to attend full-day Kindergarten.
The Uniform Mill Levy/Mill Levy Equalization has been a topic we have talked about before in these updates. All session, this has been a strong conversation with lots of support. The idea has been to create two bills: one that would create a uniform mill levy across the state and the other that would equalize those mills across districts. However, as of last week, it was decided that these bills will not be introduced this session.
New Funding Possibilities with the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR)
As some of you may know, the Residential Assessment Rate (RAR) must be readjusted to account for the Gallagher Amendment every two years. This year, it was projected to be lowered to 6.95%, but now may only be lowered to 7.15% (from 7.2%). Because the JBC created a budget based on projections including the 6.95%, this means that up to an additional $116 million may be available from local property taxes to allocate in the budget for 2019-20.
Because these dollars are from the local share of school property tax revenue, the importance of conveying to legislators that the state spend these dollars on P-12 education this year is vital. There is already conversation at the legislature around whether or not they could allocate this new money to transportation, etc.
What’s Coming Up?
As we enter the last few weeks of the legislative session, we want to make sure you’re connecting with your legislators at the Capitol as well as getting to know them on the local level. Below are a few opportunities to do both!
Rep. Exum’s Education Town Hall
Rep. Becker and Sen. Story Town Hall
Sen. Zenzinger Town Hall
Legislator Highlight of the Week
Usually, we just highlight one legislator. But this week, we couldn’t choose. We want to make sure everyone knows how thankful we are to the legislators that attended and spoke at our Public Education Funding Lobby Day.
We’d like to highlight Representatives Shannon Bird, Lisa Cutter, Meg Froelich, Cathy Kipp, and Luke Mullica for sharing their pathway from advocate to legislator and encouraging our advocates to fight for what’s right in their communities and state.
We’d also like to thank Senators Tammy Story and Rachel Zenzinger for attending with the intention of answering questions of the audience, but ultimately yielding their time to students to allow their voices to be lifted. Sometimes it means even more to sit back and listen — thank you, Senators Story and Zenzinger!