This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More on chalkbeat.org.
This year, Colorado lawmakers have come closer to fully funding state schools than ever since the Great Recession. But annoyed by rising inflation and the threat of voting measures that would cut expected growth in property tax revenues, lawmakers did not keep up with constitutional spending on the K-12.
Democrats say that boasts a budget of $ 36.4 billion signed by Gov. Jared Polis last week. The budget allocates more than $ 5 billion of public money for basic K-12 spending, which is 7.5% more than this year. Average funding per student will increase by 6% to $ 9,560. Legislators too invest $ 80 million more in special educationapproaching funding according to a formula created back in 2006.
But despite a reserve in the state education fund of more than $ 800 million, lawmakers still withheld $ 321 million through a periodic mechanism known as the budget stabilization factor.
Democrats, who control both chambers, said there was too much uncertainty on the horizon. According to them, the increase in government spending will be sustainable only if local property taxes grow enough to take on part of the burden in future years.
A few months ago this seemed almost guaranteed due to rising property prices and recent changes in tax policy. But the combination of sharp inflation and potential property tax restrictions will dramatically increase the state’s commitment to school funding, which lawmakers may have difficulty meeting in 2023.
The only thing worse than not giving schools enough money, say lawmakers, is giving them more money for one year to roll them back to next year.
“It’s unpredictable,” said State Sen. Rachel Censinger, a Democrat from Arvada and a member of the Joint Budget Committee. “It doesn’t help our districts.”