(June 10) – The bipartisan School Finance Act, sponsored by Reps. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, and Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale, was signed into law this morning by Gov. John Hickenlooper. This bill, which was able to provide an increase in funding for Colorado’s K-12 public education system, has widely been recognized as a victory in a year when many feared significant cuts.
“I’m proud of what we were able to accomplish in this year’s School Finance Act: increasing K-12 funding and providing assistance to rural school districts who are struggling to cope with the impacts of the negative factor,” said Rep. Millie Hamner. “The fact remains, however, that our schools are drastically underfunded and we need to continue working on a long-term solution that will allow our budget to prioritize education.”
HB16-1422 does what many thought was impossible this year: it expands funding for K-12 schools and holds the negative factor at last year’s level. The bill also establishes a new $1 million grant program for rural school districts who are dealing with the negative factor for the first time, to help ease the transition. The bill also included a number of tweaks to streamline requirements on charter schools, a bipartisan compromise on a contentious issue this session.
“This school finance bill is the result of hard work and bipartisan cooperation in both chambers,” said Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, chair of the House Education Committee who was also a sponsor of the bill. “I’m so glad that we were able to come together and achieve a compromise that will invest in our schools, our teachers and our students across the state.”
The governor’s original budget proposal released in November grew the K-12 negative factor by $50 million and cut the state education fund by $240 million.