Colorado Gov. Jared Polis desires to make use of a windfall introduced nicely after the election to pay for certainly one of his main marketing campaign guarantees — full-day kindergarten — he introduced Tuesday.
However, his plan met with fast pushback from Democrats on the General Assembly committee that writes the finances.
“There was a huge shift due to our strong economy in the December forecast … ,” Budget Director Lauren Larson stated throughout a media briefing Thursday. “Property tax revenues are filling the coffers of local governments to a higher level than was expected, reducing the burden on the state’s general fund to backfill the funding that was needed for K-12 education.”
What meaning is the state ought to hold about $274 million extra in its 2019-20 finances than initially predicted, and Polis desires to spend about 80 % of it on kindergarten. School districts wouldn’t need to take the cash, and any additional would return into the state training fund.
“We can leverage our state’s improved economy to benefit our schools without sacrificing other budget priorities,” Polis wrote in a letter to the Joint Budget Committee.
The 15-page letter, full with charts and graphs, outlines all the modifications the brand new governor want to make to the finances submitted by former Gov. John Hickenlooper in November. Some of the coverage modifications are small. For instance, Polis desires to alter a $6.5 million scholarship fund for college kids planning to develop into lecturers right into a mortgage forgiveness program.
Other modifications signify a brand new course for the state, despite the fact that each the present governor and his predecessor are Democrats. Polis desires $2 million for an eight-week paid household depart program for state workers and one other $1.3 million to begin the method of looking for a federal waiver to import prescribed drugs from Canada.
“These are relatively small budget items that we include, but they are very high impact,” Polis advised reporters Thursday.
Colorado’s governor doesn’t get to jot down the finances. What she or he submits is extra of a advice to the legislature, which suggests Polis wants the help of General Assembly — particularly the six Joint Budget Committee members — if he desires to implement the objects outlined in his briefing.
“The governor’s budget doesn’t really touch on transportation, for example,” stated Sen. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, who chairs the JBC. “And that’s something we’ve heard loud and clear from out constituents — that they are tired of sitting in traffic. They want better infrastructure.”
He and fellow JBC member Rachel Zenzinger, a Democratic senator from Arvada, advised reporters that Polis’ finances request was “very large” and may not be fulfilled throughout his first 12 months in workplace.
“I think it’s perfectly reasonable to look at all options about how this is implemented,” Zenzinger stated. “I think it’s not necessarily off the table to phase something like full-day kindergarten in, but that has yet to be determined.”
Moreno and Zenzinger stated it may take time for faculties to organize for these new college students, particularly ones that use the identical school rooms for morning and afternoon kindergarten.
Also, Colorado’s financial forecasters are predicting an financial slowdown within the early a part of the subsequent decade, which may evaporate these additional the governor desires to make use of for all-day kindergarten.
“If we fund it this year, then we need to make sure that we’re funding it in the other years, too,” Zenzinger stated.