School Spending Transparency Debate Returns Today to State Capitol

It’s the Monday after a holiday weekend. Most federal government workers have the day off, including no mail delivery. State workers are excused from duty for Presidents’ Day. Most schools are closed, too.

What a great time for a state senate committee to hear Senate Bill 91 (PDF), the 2010 version of Colorado’s Public School Financial Transparency Act. The legislation is a new and improved version of last year’s SB 57, which some politicians found a way to double-super-kill. Even Miracle Max couldn’t help us then.

One key difference between last year and this year is the fact that a few Colorado school districts — like Jeffco and Colorado Springs 11 – are showing that real financial transparency can be done at a reasonable time and cost. That doesn’t even include the newest financial transparency site created by Douglas County Schools, which may be the best of them all.

K-12 education gets 43 percent of the state’s General Fund spending, in addition to billions in property taxes and millions in other government funds. You’re paying for it, you’re invested in it, don’t you want to help public education be as open, efficient and effective as it can be?

Maybe you have some time off from work or school today. The hearing is in Senate Committee Room 353 starting at 1:30 PM — if you don’t have time to make it down to the State Capitol, you can listen online here.

Yes, there’s another OK school spending transparency bill out there (HB 1036). But SB 91 would do the job even better in making sure citizens get a convenient, clear and user-friendly look at how school districts and other local education providers spend tax dollars, grants and student fees. Remember: It’s hard to kill transparency in front of the bright light of public attention.