Bill would invest more marijuana revenue into schools

(Feb. 7) — A bill sponsored by Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, that would require a greater portion of state marijuana tax revenue to go towards school renovation and construction through the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program passed the House Education committee. The BEST program helps Colorado school districts modernize their classroom spaces by funding projects to rebuild or repair the state’s worst off PreK-12 facilities.

“We have schools today that are in desperate need of repair. Kids are going to school in cold classrooms, hot classrooms, classrooms that aren’t in the best condition,” said Rep. Bird. “This bill will help us make an investment and a positive change in the lives of the students who are counting on us.”

Some schools in Colorado have sewage and plumbing problems, classrooms that have asbestos and lack central air conditioning.

Currently, only 90 percent of state retail marijuana excise tax revenue goes towards school capital construction projects. The bill increases that to 100 percent. This legislation would also bolster the funding for BEST, the only statewide source of capital construction funds for public schools, by allowing the BEST board of directors to fund additional grants via Certificates of Participation (COPs), which help school districts finance construction improvement projects.

“When the voters approved Amendment 64 they intended that the vast majority of the tax revenue would go to our schools,” continued Rep. Bird.”This bill responds to the will of Colorado voters by utilizing this revenue stream to address the dire needs of our schools.”

HB19-1055 passed the committee with bipartisan support on a vote of 12-1 and now heads to the Finance committee. The bill is also supported by an array of stakeholders.

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