Deep K-12 budget cuts will be even deeper than anticipated

It’s an election year and Colorado political news readers will be reading a lot about taxing and spending— about the big difference between Democratic and Republican ideas about government. Recession realities, however, are mocking those easy distinctions. Yesterday, legislative staff reported that Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter and Democratic-dominated legislature will be slashing state aid to K-12 education next school year by a projected $431 million or 7.5 percent of the current school budget. School administrators believe the cuts will get even larger.

Education News Colorado reports:

broken down school bus

Some district administrators fear the effective cut in school instructional budgets could be 10 to 12 percent in 2010-11, given that districts will face increased costs for things like pensions and health insurance at the same time state aid is cut.

So something will have to give, most likely class sizes, teacher jobs and teacher salaries.

The legislature recently passed, and Ritter signed a law, cutting $110 million of state school aid in the current budget year, about 2 percent. The state also isn’t compensating districts for higher-than-projected enrollment and numbers of at-risk students.

Democrats are proposing lifting tax exemptions on businesses to raise revenue. Republicans have fought the plan. Yesterday they announced a plan of their own that calls for no new revenue-generation but only for more cuts across the board. They asked Democrats to decide where the cuts should be made.

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