Fact-checking opposition group’s fiction on the Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative
DENVER, CO – Coloradans for Real Education Reform is in need of a real education on what, exactly, the Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative will do.
In their opening press conference to announce their opposition to the Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative, Coloradans for Real Education Reform failed to put forward a single “real reform” they’d like to see enacted and made a number of claims about the measure that are easily refuted.
1. FICTION: New money raised from the Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative will go straight to the General Fund where it can be “hijacked” for other purposes … there’s no guarantee the new money makes its way to teachers, students and classrooms.
FACT: The additional money is locked in a newly created fund – the School Educational Achievement Fund–which is constitutionally protected from any use other than for improvements in the classroom. All other state education spending will be through State Education Fund, which is also constitutionally protected and can’t be used for non-P-12 expenditures.1
2. FICTION: A business owner will see the taxes on his business and his personal taxes go up.
FACT: The Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative increases the state income tax rates on “individuals, estates and trusts.” It does not touch the state’s business income tax. Some business owners may pay their taxes via their personal income tax, but no one will be double taxed.2
3. FICTION: The Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative doesn’t include line-by-line transparency or accountability measures.
FACT: Districts are already subject to line by line accounting by way of Colorado’s common chart of accounts. We will be adding the additional requirement that they not only report line by line relative to district spending, but also according to individual school spending. For example, we already require districts to report how much they spend as a district on reading coaches. We will now be requiring that they report how much they spend on reading coaches for individual schools. The same can be said about every other expenditure within a district.3
Additionally, Senate Bill 213 requires the state to publish regular reports that will be used to continually improve our system. The first will determine how much funding is needed for schools to meet all the requirements in our state’s education policies and laws. A second report will look at the return on investment for taxpayers by examining the relationship between education spending and student outcomes. Together, these reports will be powerful tools to ensure Colorado’s education system is effective, efficient and ensuring students continue to achieve.4
4. FICTION: It doesn’t do enough for charters or school choice.
FACT: Colorado has a robust school choice movement, but charter schools and district schools have not been funded equally. The Colorado Commits to Kids Initiative would support school choice by helping to provide equal funding to charter schools and district schools, ensuring that students receive the same support no matter the type of school they attend. 5
Additionally, the financial transparency website mandated by SB 213 helps improve parental choice, as they are able to compare how schools spend money when deciding where to send their kids.
5. FICTION: State Treasurer Walker Stapleton says nothing will prevent districts from simply taking the new money and, through “substitution,” using it to pay for other items – notably pension liability.
FACT: Similar to the current State Education Fund, money raised by Colorado Commits to Kids is constitutionally and statutorily prohibited from ever being used directly to fund PERA. It’s that simple.
6. FICTION: We don’t need to increase money for schools, as demonstrated by collections this year that exceeded projections:
FACT: The State Education Fund is currently not sufficient to support the annual and on-going needs of our students. The higher-than-expected revenues are largely one-time in nature and are not guaranteed to be available in future years.6
Because of the higher-than-expected revenues, the State Legislature transferred additional money into the State Education Fund. The additional money constitutes a one-time boost, however, and cannot be relied upon in future years.7 According to the nonpartisan Legislative Council, it is not expected that these transfers will continue beyond the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Colorado requires on-going, sustainable funding to support our students via the reforms outlined in Senate Bill 213.
For more facts, visit www. ColoradoCommitstoKids.com
1Source: “Initiative 22” and CRS 22-54.5-102
2Source: “Initiative 22 title”
3Source: Senate Bill 213, p. 131
4Source: Ibid., pages 24-25.
5 Source: Ibid., pages pgs 70-74.
6Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting, “The Colorado Outlook Economic and Fiscal Review” June 2013 and Colorado Legislative Council, “Economic and Revenue Forecast, June 2013″ June 20, 2013.
7Transfer Of General Fund Surplus to State Ed Fund, HB12-1338, Sixty-eighth General Assembly (2012).