March 11, 2016

Friday, March 18 is a key date in finalizing the proposed 2016-17 state budgets
One week from today, on March 18, Governor John Hickenlooper's Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) and the Colorado General Assembly's Legislative Council will issue their respective third quarter revenue forecasts. As regular readers of this bulletin know, the December 2015 forecast lowered revenue expectations for Colorado state tax collections. Firm dollar amounts for state government's proposed annual budget for 2016-17 (referred to as the "Long Bill") and the 2016-17 funding amendments for the School Finance Act of 1994 will not be set until next week's more current revenue forecasts. The proposed Long Bill is then sent to the legislature by the six-member Joint Budget Committee (JBC). These six legislators (three state senators and three state representatives) are selected by their colleagues in the House and Senate respectively with two from the majority party and one from the minority party. Because the House is controlled 34-31 by Democrats and the Senate is controlled 18-17 by Republicans, the JBC make-up is three Republicans and three Democrats. 

Building a Better Colorado's final initiatives submitted for November ballot (excerpted from online DBJ article​):
"Advocates filed the final of five ballot proposals stemming from the series of Building a Better Colorado meetings Tuesday, asking voters to allow the state government to keep Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights refunds and put the money toward education, transportation and health services — either for a limited time or in perpetuity.

"Those proposals — three were filed, although only one is likely to end up on the November statewide ballot — join with efforts submitted last month to the Legislative Council that would re-start the state’s presidential primary in 2020, open primary voting to unaffiliated voters, make it harder to amend the state constitution and require groups submitting constitutional amendments to get petition signatures from all 35 state Senate districts."

​From: The Denver Business Journal​ by Ed Sealover March 8, 2016. ​

Move of Hospital Provider Fee still a possibility
In her March 10, 2016 onine newsletter, Colorado House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Gunbarrel) continues to hold out hope for passage of Governor Hickenlooper's and her effort to move the revenue from the Colorado Hospital Provider Fee to its own enterprise fund. This would keep the state general fund under the TABOR Amendment's mandatory refund ceiling for the short term. This would alleviate the need to cut state support for public education and other services at a time when Colorado's economic expansion is leading the nation.

On March 10, Speaker Hullinghorst wrote: "We have made great progress to come to a solution to alleviate our budget woes. The state’s chief legal official, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman [R], has issued an official opinion that a hospital provider fee restructuring – which would free up millions of dollars for schools and roads – is consistent with TABOR. Her opinion matches that of many other prominent legal minds and this solution has the support of every major editorial board in the state. Read my explanation of our budget issues and the hospital provider fee solution here."​

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 a Feb. 25, 2016 story by reporter Ann Schimke entitled, "Landmark Colorado reading law draws kudos, concerns from teachers three years in​​."
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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​.​​​​​​