March 25, 2016

March 18 quarterly state revenue forecast contains bad news for 2016-17 state budget - more cuts needed to balance for next year

Dear readers,

The Colorado General Assembly's Joint Budget Committee (JBC) on Monday [March 21] got expected difficult confirmation of the March 18 Colorado revenue projections. The six-member joint committee (three senators and three representatives) are going to have to make some further cuts in their proposed 2016-17 budget. It is the JBC's responsibility to annually prepare the proposed state budget for legislative consideration. They are supported in their work by a highly experienced budget research staff.

The projected revenue shortfall is estimated at $200 million or $73 million, depending on whether state revenue forecasts from legislative staff economists or the projections from the executive branch are used. The legislature's budget research arm is the Legislative Council staff economists. The Governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) serves as the executive branch's budget think tank. Disagreements between the two - when they occur - are often based upon the importance attached to various economic indicators by the respective agencies. Keep in mind that not only is the JBC made up of three senators and three representatives, it is, this session, made up of three Republicans (two senators and one representative) and three Democrats (one senator and two representatives). This is because each chamber's JBC delegation is made up of two majority party members and one minority party member. Currently, the state Senate is controlled by Republicans (18-17) while the state House of Representatives is controlled by the Democrats (34-31). This partisan make up increases the likelihood of the JBC taking the more conservative route and using the more pessimistic revenue projections as they fill in the numbers in the state budget bill, commonly referred to annually as the "Long Bill."  

According to Chalkbeat COLORADO reporter Todd Engdahl in his March 21 online report, "Committee deliberations are being closely watched by education lobbyists because the ultimate decisions could affect the size of the 2016-17 negative factor for schools and determine whether state colleges and universities will have to take a $20 million cut. The committee would like to hold the negative factor to $831 million and avoid the higher education reductions."

It is still too early to definitively project about the possible threat these lowered state revenue projections pose to Colorado P-12 public education state funding for next school year. JBC options for budget balancing cuts include, according to Chalkbeat, "cutting planned funding for state construction projects, reducing the reimbursements given to medical services providers or reducing the level of required state reserves."

The 2016-17 Long Bill, which will be a House bill this session, is due to be introduced in the House on Monday, March 28. Colorado's state constitution requires a balanced budget, ruling out any deficit spending by state government. Next week's legislative bulletin will share what the JBC decided at the end of this week and its implications for the 2016-17 per pupil funding program amendments to the Colorado School Finance Act.

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 March 21, 2016 Daily Capitol Report by Todd Engdahl.

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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. 

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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. 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​.​​​​​​