Tag Archives: property taxes

HB 1375: What Is It, and What Does It Mean for Charters?

Last week, we talked about the sausage-making process behind House Billl 17-1375, which was originally Senate Bill 17-061, but on two separate occasions was part of Senate Bill 17-296.  Got it? Tortured though its legislative journey was, HB 1375’s passage has been heralded by many who worked on it as a huge victory for public charter schools. The Colorado League of Charter Schools, which spearheaded the effort, has been celebrating the bill’s passage as it heads to the governor’s desk, as has much of the rest of Colorado’s education reform lobby. Even the Denver Post gave the bill it’s nod of approval just before final passage. Certainly, some high-fiving and celebration is in order. Many people and organizations, including the Independence Institute, worked in support of Senate Bill 061’s original incarnation. Those folks, and the handful of Senate Democrats brave enough to vote for the bill in its near-original form, deserve a lot of praise for their efforts. But after all the backroom deals and last-minute compromises, I think it’s important to take a close look at what, exactly, we passed. Let’s do that today. Below is a rundown of the major changes to the final bill and what they might mean […]

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Public Policy Buckets and the Law of Unintended Consequences

You know, we spend too much time thinking about public policy in buckets. I live in the education bucket, while others live in the finance bucket or the energy bucket or the transportation bucket or… well, you get the point. But the world doesn’t really work that way, does it? Public policy in one area often deeply affects policy in another. Pull the wrong string over here and you may inadvertently spark a crisis over there. To underscore that point, I’d like to call your attention to Exhibit A: South Routt School District (SOROCO to the locals) and the unintended consequences of the War on Coal on education in Colorado. South Routt is a tiny school district of about 350 PK-12 students near Steamboat. I’ll forgive you if you haven’t heard of it before. Like many rural school districts in Colorado, SOROCO lives on a budgetary razor’s edge where any large swing is likely to be felt very keenly. You can imagine the district’s panic, then, when Peabody Energy, the country’s largest coal-mining company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April 2016. Why would a national coal company’s bankruptcy matter to South Routt? Because it turns out that bankrupt corporations […]

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Colorado Senate Bill 291: Bad Idea for Supporters of "Local Control"

Before they’re scheduled to adjourn the session sometime next week, the legislators at the Colorado State Capitol still have some decisions to make on key education bills. But one bad idea has popped up at the last minute that you ought to know about. Four weeks ago sponsoring Democrat lawmakers included in the original version of the School Finance Act a provision to punish “sore losers” — voters in school districts that opt to restore taxpayer protections usurped by the Colorado Supreme Court. In other words, if approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, the state would stop backfilling funds to districts that opt out of ratcheting increased local school property taxes. The provision was amended out of the School Finance Act to avoid the controversy. But the issue returned as Senate Bill 291 (PDF), passed on a party-line vote out of the Senate Education Committee, and now is being considered by the full senate. It will be interesting to see how the votes shake out. For many, the “local control” doctrine in the state constitution is a convenient mantra selectively used to support certain education policies and not to support others. If anyone in the legislature really […]

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Speedy School Finance Bill Could Innovate, Punish "Sore Loser" Districts

This morning brings an important committee hearing at the State Capitol, as the Democrats in charge try to speed through some serious changes to the School Finance Act: Legislators and lobbyists Tuesday were hurriedly conferring about and drafting possible amendments to Senate Bill 09-256, the 2008-09 school finance bill that was introduced Monday. The bill currently is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday, considered on the Senate floor Thursday and is set for final passage on Friday. That leaves little time for crafting language for a complex bill that takes several new directions with the overall goal of funneling more money to at-risk students and polishing up Colorado’s chances to win competitive federal stimulus grants for education innovation. [Link to bill PDF added] Very little time has been given to analysis of this proposal thus far, so I can’t comment much yet. It does look like some innovative proposals may be included, but then as the Denver Post‘s Jessica Fender reports, something bad could be in store for certain school districts that want to honor taxpayer protections — if House Democrats get their way:

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Jeffco Voters Need Clearer Information to Decide Funding Proposals

Colorado’s largest school district is one of many asking voters this year for more operating tax revenue and for bond debt to fund school construction. An article in Sunday’s Denver Post quoted one of my Education Policy Center friends with concerns about Jefferson County’s proposals (designated 3A and 3B): “They are asking taxpayers to build in a district with declining enrollment,” said Ben DeGrow, a policy analyst at the conservative Independence Institute think tank. Referendum C, a five-year timeout from TABOR revenue restrictions passed in 2005, and a 2007 law that allowed local property taxes to grow should be providing “a lot more revenue” for Jefferson County and other school districts, DeGrow said. Referendum C provided more than $300 million to K-12 education in 2006-07. No one doubts that Jeffco and other school districts need a certain amount of money to provide educational services. So it’s not a simple matter of voting Yes “for the kids” (like me) and voting No “against the kids.” If funding were attached directly to the student, and the parents could decide where to send their children, there would be a stronger case for that simplified line of thinking. However, that’s not how the system […]

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