The Gov also signed bills to facilitate equal pay and save parents money on child care
DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed three bills into law that will increase funding for public schools, make early childhood education more affordable and accessible and study pay equity in Colorado’s public sector. These bills are part of the FY21-22 Budget Supplemental Package.
Years of hard work to save Coloradans money on child care is paying off. In 2020, the legislature put Proposition EE on the ballot, which voters overwhelmingly passed. Then in 2021, Democratic lawmakers created the Department of Early Childhood to implement universal Pre-K. Now, HB22-1197, sponsored by Representatives Sirota and McCluskie will get the Department of Early Childhood up and running so it can launch universal Pre-K on the timeline voters expect.
“We’re making significant progress toward launching universal Pre-K in Colorado,” said Rep. Emily Sirota D-Denver. “Universal Pre-K and expanded access to early childhood education will save parents money and prepare our youngest learners to thrive.”
“Pandemic pressures have taken a toll on our students and schools which is why we’re working to provide more resources that support student learning,” said JBC Chair, Julie McCluskie D-Dillion. “This bill is a significant investment in our K-12 education system that will better serve students across the state. We also know that lifelong learning begins with comprehensive early childhood education – that’s why we are focused on investing in our future students. The brand new Department of Early Childhood is dedicated to their growth and development. We are committed to preparing our students for success from their earliest days and ensuring sustainable investments in their education.”
HB22-1186, sponsored by JBC Chair Julie McCluskie and JBC Member Leslie Herod, will buy down the Budget Stabilization Factor by $68 million and provide an additional $91 million to districts to support all of Colorado’s students/to help all of Colorado’s students flourish, no matter where their classroom is located. By holding total program funding steady amidst an increase in property tax revenues and an enrollment decline, the legislature will reduce the Budget Stabilization Factor. As the legislature moves to improve how at-risk students are counted, the bill would significantly increase funding to districts with higher numbers of at-risk students.
“From the classroom to the workforce, we’re taking significant steps towards building a more equitable Colorado,” said Rep. Leslie Herod. D-Denver. “We’re focused on preparing our students for success by providing additional funding for school districts to serve at-risk students. We’re also making efforts to ensure state employees, regardless of race or socioeconomic class, are paid equally. These are concrete steps to close equity gaps and move Colorado forward.”
In an effort to achieve pay parity, HB22-1196, sponsored by Representative Herod and Majority Leader Esgar, directs the equity diversity and inclusion task force to conduct a study to assess the pay inequities specific to gender, race and other protected classes in state departments. The task forces will also provide recommendations on how to alleviate these pay gaps as well as provide a detailed summary of their findings to the general assembly and the governor and the executive director of Colorado workers for innovative and new solutions (WINS).
“Today, we’re making big steps towards equal pay for equal work,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar D-Pueblo. “This study will shine a light on the pay inequities we already know exist and give us recommendations for alleviating those pay gaps at the state level. We’re serious about making Colorado a better place for everyone and that includes closing the wage gap for women, people of color and other underrepresented, underpaid state employees.”