$90 million will likely be returned to K-12 education

A bipartisan effort to reduce cuts to K-12 education by $90 million passed the House Thursday with no opposition. Republican House sponsor Rep. Tom Massey, R-Poncha Springs, worked with Democrats to create a compromise that will provide funds to many rural communities, special needs programs and other supplemental programs.

Rep. Tom Massey speaks on higher education funding.

Massey’s amendment to the school finance act takes $22.5 million from the state education fund, and transfers it to the Public School Fund. The amendment also take an additional $67.5 million from overages in Colorado’s tax revenue based on the June forecast and also deposits that into the Fund to pay for supplementals that could not previously be paid for.

“The money will be specifically dedicated toward at risk populations, student counts and districts that have declining assessed (real estate) value. These are the neediest of our school districts. So I think it is an outstanding compromise,” Massey said.

Democratic House Minority Leader Sal Pace chimed in that he was proud to have worked with Massey on the bill and was thrilled to be able to reduce the cuts to education.

“This is bipartisan compromise at its best, working across the aisle to reduce class sizes, prevent more school districts going to a four day school week… and ensuring that we are providing for our future,” Pace said. “What was a couple of months ago a $338 million cut to K-12, after this amendment will be a $160 million cut.”

An amendment to Massey’s amendment then ensured that once the supplemental programs were paid for, any extra revenue would go to fund other shortages in the K-12 system.

“I think it is an outstanding compromise,” Massey told the members of the House and said that he wanted to thank both the governor’s office and leadership on both sides of the aisle for helping him craft the amendment.

The governor during a morning press conference said that the amendment has been part of a discussion on how to temper the cuts to education as revenues exceeded projections, but he didn’t appear to have signed on fully with the plan. He explained that putting all of the money into education at this time “could be challenging.”

“We all want to get resources to our teachers and our schools. When you come to start thinking about the budget next November for 2012-13, we don’t want to throw ourselves into an impossible situation,” Hickenlooper said.

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