February 26, 2016

The past as prologue? Will Colorado bipartisan political leaders find common ground again as they did in 2005?
In the late winter of 2005, when the State of Colorado faced a fiscal crisis on the scale that it is facing in 2016, something extraordinary happened. Partisan politicians, jointly led by conservative Republican Governor Bill Owens and liberal Democratic Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver), came together at no small political risk to create two bipartisan referred ballot measures - Referendum C (a TABOR Amendment reform that included a five year timeout from TABOR revenue limits) and Referendum D (allowing for state bonding to repair and upgrade Colorado's transportation infrastructure). Referendum D failed narrowly in November but Referendum C passed - also by a close margin - in spite of a highly funded, intense opposition campaign that trumpeted the simple slogan, "Vote No! It's your Dough!" Without the leadership of Governor Owens, House Speaker Romanoff, dozens of other elected officials - both Republicans and Democrats - along with the collaborative leadership of more than 1,000 state and local professional, business, and community organizations, Referendum C would have failed.

Is there the political will, intelligence, and courage across the public policy spectrum to build the support necessary to make 2016 as or more memorable as 2005 in the civic history of our state? It remains to be seen. Education supporters such as Great Education Colorado, The Colorado Fiscal Institute, the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the Colorado Education Association and Building a Better Colorado​ are just a few of the groups dedicated to reversing our state's more than two-decade decline in support of Colorado school children's education. 

In the current legislative session, Governor John Hickenlooper, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Gunbarrel), state Senator Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa), and others are supporting moving the Hospital Provider Fee revenues from state government's general fund to an enterprise fund as should have happened in 2009 when the fee was created. Without this change, state general fund revenues will exceed the TABOR Amendment revenue limit formula and force millions of state tax dollars to be refunded requiring state funding cuts to Colorado public education, health care, higher education and other services at a time when Colorado's economic expansion is leading nearly all other states. If Governor Hickenlooper and his allies are successful, there will be no TABOR limit cuts for 2016-17. It is not a long-term fix but it will buy Colorado a few years to develop and implement a long-term solution.

That long-term solution can only come with the nonpartisan joint collaboration of citizens across the political spectrum, the nonprofit community, the business community, labor, state and local opinion leaders, and from citizens living in the thousands of neighborhoods across each of Colorado's 64 counties. The public conversation has started. The planning has begun. The call to action is coming. Will Colorado hearken back to the spirit of 2005 civic leadership in 2016? We'll see. ​

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. 4 story by reporter Todd Engdahl entitled,​ "House passes bill giving parents time off for school meetings."

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During each regular session (January - May) of the Colorado General Assembly, the Boulder Valley School District is represented on a day-to-day basis by Tanya Kelly-Bowry and Ernestine Mondragon of the firm Policy Matters, LLC. They regularly communicate with BVSD Superintendent Bruce Messinger and Director of Communications & Legislative Policy Briggs Gamblin. This is a link to an online bill tracking system for legislation being monitored by our district.

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. 

Understanding Colorado School Finance
Colorado supporters of PK-12 public education have found nonprofit Great Education Colorado to be a valuable resource both for important factual information concerning state funding of Colorado public schools and advocacy opportunities if interested. For the BVSD Weekly Legislative Bulletin's purposes, our focus will be setting context especially for those readers not yet familiar with the factors involved in Colorado state government's complex funding of public education across the state's 178 school districts.
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Colorado PK-12 Public Education Funding - Frequently Asked Questions

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​.​​​​​​