Capitol Week In Review: Week 11

Welcome to a special edition of Capitol Week In Review. We are updating you on the progress of our top policy priorities now that we are more than halfway through the 2024 legislative session. 

The Colorado state budget, or Long Bill, was introduced this week. The $40.6 billion budget is drafted by members of the Joint Budget Committee and considers recommendations in the Governor’s annual budget request. 

According to reporting from Chalkbeat, “K-12 funding would increase nearly 7% to about $9.7 billion next year. Average per pupil spending would increase by about 7%, or $780, to $11,450 next year.”

Senators Buckner and Zenzinger sponsored the Colorado School Finance Act, which passed out of the Senate Education Committee this week. For the first time since 2009, the School Finance Act proposes to fully fund K-12 schools by eliminating a maneuver that withheld education funds to pay for other priorities. The end of what’s called the budget stabilization factor will mark a turning point for the state and schools.  

To learn more about the state budget process, check out our video explainer and be sure you are following us on TikTok and Instagram!

Changing the trajectory for high school students by increasing funding for the 9th grade success grant program

HB24-1282, Ninth-Grade Success Grant & Performance Reporting, expands funding for the 9th Grade Success Grant Program, creates a statewide report on Ninth Grade On-Track rates so we can track what is working and areas that may need support, and removes the 2025 expiration date of the current grant program.

Current status: HB24-1282 passed the House Education Committee and is awaiting a hearing by the House Appropriations Committee. An amendment adding $2 million for the grant program to the budget, or long bill, was passed by the House of Representatives. 

Impacting generations of Colorado students by updating Colorado’s 30-year-old school finance formula

Our school finance formula, which defines how Colorado schools are funded by the state, hasn’t been updated in 30 years.  Legislation (to-be-introduced) this year aims to update the formula.

Current status:  A to-be-introduced legislative proposal puts more money in the formula overall, and importantly dramatically increases how much school districts get for each student from a low-income household, each English Language Learner, and each student with a disability.  

Increasing educator diversity and addressing Colorado’s teacher shortage 

HB24-1290, Student Educator Stipend Program, appropriates annual funding for stipends for student teachers. This bill is part of a multi-year effort to remove barriers in educator preparation to increase educator diversity and address Colorado’s teacher shortage. HB22-1220, a policy we championed 2022 included a program to give a student teacher stipend to educators that qualify. This legislation continues that program. 

Current Status: The bill passed the House Education Committee and is awaiting a hearing by the House Appropriations Committee. 

Decreasing recidivism by increasing virtual supervision opportunities for probation and parole statewide

Expanding opportunities for remote reporting (via online platform or phone) for individuals under supervision in Colorado is a way to use technology to ensure people can meet the requirements of their parole or probation while supporting their ability to work, seek education, care for children, or other responsibilities.  Currently, lower-risk individuals under probation or parole supervision may have the option to check in virtually with their supervising officers in many jurisdictions. However, this option varies across the state and we aim to change that. 

Current Status:  Yet-to-be introduced, legislation will standardize remote supervision statewide for individuals that qualify.

Supporting Youth Mental Health by continuing free therapy sessions

SB24-001, will continue the “I Matter” youth mental health services program, which provides up to six free therapy sessions and reimburses participating licensed therapists. Almost 11,000 children and teens have used the program already. If SB24-001 is not passed, the “I Matter” program will end this summer.

Current Status:  SB24-001 has been passed by the Senate and is scheduled to be heard by the House Health and Human Services Committee next week.

We are thrilled to let you know that there will be an opportunity to update the 30-year-old school finance formula this year. Soon-to-be introduced legislation, aims to ensure the way we fund schools puts students first.

The draft proposal would put in place a school finance formula that sends more money per student to all districts and also, dramatically increases how much school districts get for each student from a low-income household, each English Language Learner, and each special education student.   This is an opportunity to have a deep and lasting impact on Colorado students and educators.

Lawmakers need to understand it is a priority for you, so please email to let them know you support the effort to update the school finance formula!

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