The Democratic-controlled Colorado Legislature did not treat K-12 education right in 2014. K-12 education makes up more than 50 percent of the annual general fund budget. In 2013, the Legislature asked the taxpayers of Colorado for the largest tax increase in the state’s history to supposedly fund K-12 education. It was defeated by a whopping 70 percent.
One of my arguments against the huge tax increase was that the Legislature should look at those funding needs on an annual basis, depending on projected income. In 2014, the Legislature had $1.4 billion extra to budget. The Colorado Association of School Boards was asking for $275 million to help fill the negative factor which is the amount of money that the Legislature had shorted school boards during the short-revenue years under Amendment 23. (Amendment 23 is a constitutional amendment that requires K-12 funding to include annual inflation. The Legislature found a loophole to get out of this requirement during tough economic times.) I believe that the $275 million asked by CASB was reasonable, considering the extra $1.4 billion the Legislature had to spend. However, the Legislature only gave schools $100 million for the negative factor. I think this is wrong. The Legislature can and should do better.
J. Paul Brown
Editor’s note: J.Paul Brown is a former state representative from the 59th House District, which includes Durango. He is running against state Rep. Michael McLachlan, D-Durango, to regain that seat.