With one week to go, there is no shortage of crazy going on at the Capitol. The Governor’s office dropped a new bill on tobacco tax, the School Finance Act is quickly making its way through the Senate and House, and Committees are wrapping up for the year.
School Finance Act (SB19-246)
On Tuesday, the School Finance Act made its way through the Senate with a particularly important amendment introduced by Senator Zenzinger: an additional $22 million for Tier B Special Education Funding added in to the School Finance Act! On Thursday, it passed through the House Education Committee with amendments intact. So what does the School Finance Act entail now?
- $20 million for rural schools
- $23 million additional to buy down the Budget Stabilization factor (making that a round $100 million buy down for this year)
- $22 million for Tier B Special Education Funding
We’re excited about the addition of the $22 million dollars for Special Education, but are disappointed that the $5 million for mental health has been taken out since the original version. Join us in asking your legislators to ensure that students get additional mental health supports!
“Tobacco Tax” (HB19-1333)
You may have seen the Governor’s press conference about a proposed nicotine tax referred measure that was introduced late in the game (just this week!) at the legislature — and right now this is on the top of our radar. So what is it exactly?
- The bill would refer a measure to increase taxes on tobacco products. It would include “e-cigarettes” and other vaping/tobacco products that are currently not taxed.
- It is estimated that in its first year, these taxes would bring in around $300 million.
- If the voters approve this measure, $34 million would go to mental health, and all additional moneys from this tax would go towards education and healthcare (50% to each).
- The split of dollars in education would be between preschool slots and Expanded Learning Opportunities (aka after school activities).
Great Ed is currently not taking a position on this bill, as we have questions about the governance mechanism for the Expanded Learning Opportunities portion of the bill. We want to see this bill become the best that it can be and continue to work with the Governor’s office and legislators toward that goal.
Other Bills We’re Watching
State Funding for Full-Day Kindergarten (HB19-1262)
- Passed through the House Chamber, both House & Senate Appropriations, as well as House & Senate Education.
- Next Steps: the bill must be passed through the Senate Chamber.
“Debrucing” Measures (HB19-1257 & HB19-1258)
- Passed through the House Chamber, both House & Senate Finance, and through House Appropriations, all along party lines.
- Next Steps: both bills must pass through Senate Appropriations and the Senate Chamber.
Find out what you missed and get more details on what you know! Join Great Ed on May 7 to hear from a panel of folks who have been advocating for education inside the Capitol all session! At this event you will:
- Hear from legislators, lobbyists and advocates
- Get to ask the questions about public education policy you’ve been wondering all session
- Meet other advocates like you!