All Talk, No Action: Democrats Shoot Down Another Proposal on Education Funding

DENVER – Democrats on the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee in the Colorado Senate shot down Senator Jerry Sonnenberg’s (R-Sterling) Senate Concurrent Resolution 19-001 in a party-line vote this afternoon. SCR19-001 would have placed an amendment on the 2020 ballot that would have allowed the General Assembly to re-allocate funds currently set aside for Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and place them into the education fund.

This would allow the legislature to tap into approximately $135 million of funds currently set aside for GOCO. With calls from across the state to prioritize education funding, Senator Sonnenberg’s proposal would have provided another avenue for doing that if the people of Colorado voted in favor of it and if the General Assembly believed the funds were better spent in our classrooms.

“We could have added one more tool to the toolbox when it comes to education funding in Colorado,” said Senator Sonnenberg. “Unfortunately, Democrats showed their stripes in killing this effort, proving to the people of Colorado that while they like to tell their constituents that they’re focused on bringing more funding to education, their actions tell a different story.”

“It was interesting that neither the Colorado Education Association, nor the Colorado Association of School Boards, nor the Colorado Association of School Executives testified in favor of the potential $135 million for education,” Sonnenberg continued. “It is frustrating that when you try to help our schools, those that will benefit from your help choose to play politics.”

The death of SCR19-001 follows a long line of efforts by Senate Republicans to place more state dollars into the classroom that have been killed by Senate Democrats.

Senate Bill 19-022, by Senator Paul Lundeen (R-Monument), would have provided approximately $2,000 in bonuses to approximately 50% of Colorado’s teachers. These bonuses would have gone to both public and charter school teachers. Democrats killed the bill in the Education Committee.

Senate Bill 19-033, by Senator Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs), would have instructed the State Board of Education to assist rural school districts in wavering out of unnecessarily burdensome regulations. Many rural districts have small populations and small staffs, and the paperwork and bureaucratic burden on those districts matches those of larger districts. Democrats killed the bill in the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee.

Senate Bill 19-060, also by Senator Hill, would have given all educators (public school, charter school, private school, homeschool) an additional $500 tax credit for supplies they purchase for their teaching (i.e. books, supplies, equipment, etc). The bill was supported by the Colorado Education Association. Democrats not only killed the bill, but attempted to not even hold a hearing based on the idea that any bills that specifically address revenue must start in the House. It died in the Finance committee.

Senate Bill 19-074, also by Senator Lundeen, would have provided $500 per student for those suffering from a significant reading deficiency via a scholarship program (to be administered by a 3rd party non-profit). Parents would be able to draw upon this $500 only for the purpose of literary enrichment. Democrats killed the bill in the Education Committee.

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