Denver mayoral candidate Mejia pushes Legislature to better fund education

Denver Mayoral Candidate James Mejia–a former member of the Denver School Board–today asked the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) and the Denver delegation to the State Legislature to act to restore funding to public education and reduce the proposed $375 million cut in education funding.

Mejia sent a letter to the members of the JBC and the Denver delegation, calling on the legislature to:

1. Make the final decision on education funding based upon updated revenue projections.

2. Dedicate to education the increased funding that results from higher revenue projections.

3. Oppose the re-funding of the “rainy day” fund from 2% to 4% and shift the difference to education funding.

Mejia said in a prepared statement that the cuts to education recommended by the governor were based on two-month-old data, which was the best available at the time but that projections are expected to improve before the JBC is required to act.

“As responsible Coloradans we understand the need for sound fiscal management in tough economic times. As citizens of Denver we fear this will have a catastrophic impact on an already weak public education system,” Mejia wrote. “In DPS our average classroom size is too large, our teachers are asked to perform with inadequate resources and our system is failing too many of our children,”

Addressing the increase of the “rainy day” fund, Mejia wrote “Given the current state of education funding in Colorado, I believe this is indeed a “rainy day” and money should not be diverted from education.”

The full text of the letter sent to the JBC and Denver delegation below.

Re: Education Funding

Governor Hickenlooper’s plan for balancing our budget included a $375 million cut in education funding. As responsible Coloradans we understand the need for sound fiscal management in tough economic times. As citizens of Denver we fear this will have a catastrophic impact on an already weak public education system. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Colorado ranks 40th in per capita education funding. Reducing our investment in education is not in the best interest of our children, the future workforce of our economy. I am writing to you as a member of the Joint Budget Committee and Denver’s delegation urging you to restore education funding in Colorado’s budget.

The cuts to education recommended by the Governor were based on two months old data, which was the best available at the time. According to senior members of the Joint Budget Committee the data is likely to improve with updates that will be available before the JBC is required to act. Additionally, the Governor has recommended increasing contributions to Colorado’s “rainy day” fund from 2% to 4%. This recommendation is counter to the intent of the statute. These dollars should be used when the state experiences shortfalls in funding to avoid drastic cuts. Given the current state of education funding in Colorado, I believe this is indeed a “rainy day” and money should not be diverted from education to grow the “rainy day” fund from 2% to 4%.

I am calling on the Joint Budget Committee and the Denver delegation to:

1. Make the final decision on education funding based upon updated revenue projections.
2. Dedicate to education the increased funding that results from higher revenue projections.
3. Oppose the re-funding of the “rainy day” fund from 2% to 4% and shift the difference to education funding.

In DPS our average classroom size is too large, our teachers are asked to perform with inadequate resources and our system is failing too many of our children. The Denver Preschool Program, of which I am on leave as the founding CEO, is just beginning to give Denver families the support for early childhood education that is critical to learning success. I believe the proposed cuts to education funding will erase the progress we’ve made with The Denver Preschool Program.

Thank you for your ongoing efforts in the capitol on behalf of all people in Colorado. Your work is difficult and challenging. I know there are no easy answers but I believe in the resilience and determination of the people of Denver and our elected officials. We must invest in Denver’s future.

Respectfully,

James Mejia
Candidate for Mayor
City of Denver

Like this story? Steal it! Feel free to republish it in part or in full, just please give credit to The Colorado Independent and add a link to the original.

Got a tip? Story pitch? Send us an e-mail. Follow The Colorado Independent on Twitter.



About the Author

Scot Kersgaard

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>