Hudak blasts Swalm bill: Colorado can’t afford to fund private education

Colorado state Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, said that she opposes a Republican bill that would provide a tax credit to individuals paying for children to leave public schools and enter into a private education. She said Colorado cannot afford to support its own schools, let alone those of private businesses.

“I am opposed to using public funding for private schools,” Hudak said. “The state doesn’t even have enough funding for all the students who are attending public schools. There is no way the state could afford to fund this bill, and it is very poor timing to even propose such a concept.”

Hudak said the bill appeared to be a voucher program for all intents and purposes.

As drafted, The Quality Education and Budget Reduction Act would provide individuals or businesses who pay for a child to leave a public institution and enter into private or home schooling a tax credit. For students attending private school, that credit would be equal to the price of tuition or 50 percent of per pupil funding afforded to students in the state-run system. Home schooled children would receive a tax credit of $1,000.

The Legislative Council reviewed a similar bill last year, noting that it would have saved the state $56 million in fiscal year 2010-2011 and $98.9 million in 2011-2012.

However, the Colorado Education Association, among others, say the bill would be providing funds to programs that are religiously based and not subject to state mandated curriculum.

Sen. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, told the Colorado Independent earlier that the bill was an effort to save the state money in a critical time.

“My intent is not to go after teachers or public schools,” Swalm assured. He said with a billion dollar shortfall the state needed to find a way to provide an education for Colorado students “without spending as much as we are spending.”

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