Senate Bill 13-213 passed the legislature during the 2013 session, and was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper on May 21, 2013. But the story doesn't end there - because the bill doesn't go into effect unless Colorado's voters decide it deserves the backing of a $1 billion tax increase.
We believe this bill is a bad one, and won't help our kids. Some of the reasons we believe this:
1. This is the largest tax increase in Colorado's history:
For an Education bill, the fact is that very little in this bill has to do with educating our children.
This bill is a Tax Increase that benefits the very bureaucrats in and around the Capitol Building. It should be called the Golden Dome Finance Act.
SB13-213 is a $1 Billion Tax increase. To give you an idea how much this is, Colorado’s TOTAL state budget is about $20 billion. The largest part of this budget is the K-12 budget, about $3 billion. This tax increase is a more than 1/3 increase – money spent on a system that is structurally failing our students.
2. Up to 50% of this tax increase will likely go to backfilling the Public Employee Retirement Associations' unfunded pension liability, which by some estimates is about $27 billion. (Other estimates place this unfunded liability at nearly $50 billion.) This system needs reform, but rather than take any steps toward fixing it, the Union has blocked attempts at reform and instead have chosen to ask the taxpayers to pay for their mistakes.
3. It’s not Re-form. It’s Re-distribution.
This bill doesn't contain a single reform measure.
It’s INEQUITABLE: All this measure does is take from one school district, and arbitrarily give to another – using funding formulas crafted by bureaucrats in Denver.
It’s DIVISIVE: As with most “Redistribution plans,” it’s inequitable and therefore terribly divisive. It pits neighbors against neighbors, and counties against the state. It pits Coloradans against one another, when we should be working together.
4. This bill destroys control at the local level.
The state takes nearly full control over school district budgets. The state will calculate the local contribution. Whether or not the mill levy for the district raises the required contribution as determined by the state, the state contribution will remain unchanged. Furthermore, the legislation MANDATES that the district put on the ballot at least once during this budget period a mill levy override measure to achieve the local funding as determined by the state.
A child changes everything. When we hold our children for the first time, we realize that we would do anything to keep that child safe, keep her healthy, help her succeed. We spend all our time devoted to that child, to feeding her and keeping a roof over her head.
And then there comes a time when we cannot provide everything she needs to learn, and we hand her off to a teacher whom we hope has the same priorities, shares our values, someone who will help her realize her dreams.
But the reality of what we see in our schools is that our schools are failing to live up to this promise. Dropout rates are high. Test scores are flat. Parents have become disengaged from their kids’ educations. Sometimes it’s because they’ve been pushed out by an educational system that works to disengage parents, keep them out of the classroom, to keep all community members out of the process.
Attempts to fix this situation have been fought tooth and nail by the teachers’ union. They fight any system that would reward those who are good at their jobs and create accountability for those who are not gifted at teaching. They fight any system that would allow parents a voice and a choice in their kids’ education. They fight charter schools, they fight accountability measures, they fight those very things that would help our kids get the education they need to succeed.
But they spend a lot of time and resources trying to make you believe that the problems in education are 100% related to funding. They have worked very hard to convince you that Colorado is 49th in K-12 funding (in spite of the fact that 5 other states ALSO make that claim – think something’s funky with the statistics?). That we’re not spending enough, and if we’d only spend more, the problems in education would go away. Dropout rates would decrease. Test scores would go up. Our children would learn better, if only we’d spend more, sacrifice more, for our kids.
They’re counting on you believing that premise, and they’re counting on your willingness to do anything – make any sacrifice – to ensure your kids will succeed.
So enters Senate Bill 13-213.