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February 12, 2016

Dear Legislative Update reader: Just what are most Colorado superintendents asking for in the 2016 legislative session?

Two days before the start of this current legislative session, on January 11, approximately 2,000 Colorado K-12 advocates from across the state gathered in the first floor west foyer of the State Capitol next door to Governor John Hickenlooper's office. They were parents, teachers, and school district administrators from all along Colorado's Front Range as well as the eastern plains, the San Luis Valley, and the Western Slope. They were legislators. They were business supporters of public education. They were advocates such as Great Education Colorado, the Colorado Education Association (CEA), the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), the Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC), and others. They were there to listen to what 167 of 178 Colorado public school district superintendents had joined together to advocate for in 2016. The crowd enthusiastically and often applauded each speaker, including BVSD Superintendent Dr. Bruce Messinger, who serves as co-chair of the CASE legislative committee, as each explained the importance of Colorado K-12's legislative priorities in 2016.

The superintendents prioritized the following:

"During the 2016 legislative session, we specifically advocate for the General Assembly to:

"1. Uphold the intent of the General Assembly, detailed in SB 15-267, and not reduce state appropriations for the 2015-2016 School Finance Act as a result of increases in state-wide assessed property values and consideration of other factors including economic forecast and state-wide enrollment changes.

"2. Support a supplemental appropriation for 2015-2016 if necessary to ensure per pupil funding is not reduced as a result of enrollment growth or the number of at-risk pupils enrolled.

"3. Avoid increasing the negative factor in FY 2016-17.

"4. Increase total program funding in FY 2016-17 by the rate of inflation and additional amounts necessary to account for increases in pupil enrollment and the number of at-risk students enrolled.

"Furthermore, we strongly support the reclassification of the Hospital Provider Fee to an enterprise fund during the 2016 legislative session as a short-term measure to provide additional funding for Colorado’s schools. We also encourage policy makers to identify additional short and long-term strategies to achieve adequate funding for all schools.

"The time has come for Colorado’s elected representatives to provide strong leadership and restore Colorado’s reputation as a state where public schools are highly valued and stable and adequate funding are top priorities.

"We stand ready to work in partnership with Colorado’s policy makers to find new solutions to the challenges ahead so every Colorado student receives the education they deserve."

Two major threats to achieving these priorities are the prospect of the refund of more than $100 million in State general fund appropriations if the revenue limits under the 1992 Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) constitutional amendment are exceeded and projected State tax revenues coming in lower than projected. The first can be immediately addressed by the state legislature moving, as the superintendents support, the Hospital Provider Fee to an enterprise fund which would prevent the State general fund from reaching the TABOR revenue limit this year and for the next few years. State tax revenue shortfalls are largely due to currently declining oil industry revenues.


ChalkbeatCOLORADO
ChalkbeatCOLORADO​ covers PK-20 education issues throughout Colorado including one of the most in-depth and accurate PK-12 daily news to be found anywhere during the session.

This week, BVSD Communications draws your particular attention to an Feb. 8 story by reporter Todd Engdahl entitled,​ "Number of grads from Colorado teacher prep programs continues to decline."

ChalkbeatCOLORADO Bill Tracker
Beginning this session, the BVSD Weekly Legislative Bulletin will provide a link to the Chalkbeat Bill Tracker which will provide a more up to date list of bills reflecting their status in the process and showing their amended versions in a more timely manner.

2016 Legislative Platform
Each year the Boulder Valley Board of Education approves a legislative platform that sets the district’s legislative priorities and guides the BVSD contract lobbying firm, Policy Matters, LLC, led by veteran lobbyists Tanya Kelly-Bowry and Ernestine Mondragon. BVSD’s effort is overseen by Superintendent Bruce Messinger and Communications and Legislative Policy Director Briggs Gamblin. 

Contact your legislators
A list of legislators whose districts are wholly or partially within the boundaries of BVSD. ​

View the Legislative Update homepage for access to past issues. If you have any comments or questions, please contact me at briggs.gamblin@bvsd.org​.​​​​​​