House Republicans on Thursday introduced three bills that seek to resurrect parts of Senate Bill 13-213, the comprehensive school funding overhaul that was passed by the legislature last year but which didn’t go into effect because voters rejected Amendment 66, the tax increase needed to pay for the overhaul.
No Republicans voted for SB 13-213, but that didn’t stop them from convening a news conference on Nov. 6, the day after A66 lost, to say they wanted to enact parts of the bill in 2014.
Here are the three bills introduced Thursday:
- House Bill 14-1139 – The measure would convert the current single-day attendance count system to a method called average daily membership (ADM), which many consider a more accurate count of student enrollment. (Five House GOP sponsors)
- House Bill 14-1145 – The bill would require the Department of Education to create a website that provides detailed revenue and spending information about school districts. (Sole sponsor is Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida)
- House Bill 14-1147 – The proposal would set annual state aid to charter schools for facilities costs at $25 million. (Twenty-six House sponsors and one in the Senate, all Republicans)
While Republicans and Democrats alike – including Gov. John Hickenlooper – have expressed interest in ADM and financial transparency legislation, it’s unlikely majority Democrats will allow Republicans to take credit for such bills.
Denver Democratic Sen. Mike Johnston, the father of SB 13-213, is expected to introduce his own proposals to cherry-pick pieces of that bill. Asked about that Wednesday, Johnston didn’t provide details but suggested checking with him next week.
A bigger fight may be brewing over how to pay for such legislation. Republicans argue that such bills carry only one-time costs that can be covered by an estimated $1 billion available in the State Education Fund. But school districts, anxious to restore some of the more than $1 billion cut from school budgets in recent recession years, are expected to resist new education bills with price tags, regardless of whether they propose one-time spending and regardless of which party sponsors them.
SB 13-213 estimated that the Colorado Department of Education would need $5 million in the first year and more later to pay for the technological upgrades needed to make ADM and financial transparency work.
Also introduced Thursday was House Bill 14-1131, which would make cyber-bullying of minors a misdemeanor. It has nine House Democratic sponsors but no Senate sponsors.
Check Chalkbeat Colorado’s exclusive Education Bill Tracker for bill summaries and links to full bill texts.