Voters should retain option on school financing, Bell says

Wade Buchanan, president of the Bell, testified on Wednesday against House Bill 14-1120, which would have denied Colorado voters the chance to fund the Future School Finance Act after this year.

The finance act was passed by the legislature last year, but it goes into effect only if voters approve funding for it. Even though Amendment 66 failed in November, the act gives voters until 2017 to consider funding proposals. HB 1120 would have halted any such ballot measures after this year.

The Future School Finance Act, Buchanan said, is a significant improvement over the current formula, which hasn't been updated in two decades. It is "the result of a concerted effort among a wide range of critical interests to design a school funding formula that meets the challenges of the 21st century."

The new finance act is vital, Buchanan said, because it refocuses our system on the kinds of strategic investments we know will help all children succeed, and it recognizes that additional resources are vital for our schools to accomplish the important goals and outcomes we have set in recent years.

He added, "The General Assembly has passed important education reforms. But we can't continue to do so without considering what it costs to implement these reforms effectively. That is not a model for success, either in business or in the critical job of preparing our kids for the future."

In conclusion, Buchanan said, "we have no illusions about the challenge we face in finding a way to fund the Future School Finance Act especially after the overwhelming defeat of Amendment 66 last November. But we also know sticking with the current system will not get us where we need to go. Maybe the Future School Finance Act will not be implemented in its current form. But any act truly designed to prepare our kids to succeed will look very much like it. We shouldn't toss it aside, which is what HB 1120 would do."

The House Education Committee defeated the bill on a party-line vote.

Click here to read Buchanan's complete testimony.


Article posted on February 13, 2014