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Tuesday Churn: Deal done

Updated 12:15 p.m. – The Senate and the House seem to have reached a deal on the 2011-12 budget, just as the Senate appeared on the verge of introducing its own bill.

For education, the big news in the deal is that it includes a K-12 total program cut of $250 million, down from the the $332 million Gov. John Hickenlooper has said would be necessary to balance the 2011-12 budget.

The deal also would include using $36 million in state school lands funds to shore up education support and spending down the State Education Fund to about $120 million.

Senate Democrats and Republicans caucused separately on the budget this morning. Democratic leaders also huddled with members of Hickenlooper’s budget team. In both caucuses individual members made in clear that they’re not happy with elements of the Senate plan.

The final deal was cut in a huddle of Senate and House members and executive branch representatives at the press table on the Senate floor.

Other budget items involved in the plan include restoration of an agricultural supplies tax exemption, phasing back in the fee paid to retailers for collecting sales taxes, changes in a software tax, transfer of some severance and tobacco tax revenues into the general fund and a 4 percent reserve.

The Joint Budget Committee was to reconvene at 1:30 p.m., with the budget bill to be formally introduced in the Senate later in the afternoon.

What’s churning:

Members of various Colorado labor unions, including the Colorado Education Association, rallied at Denver’s City Park Monday evening to draw attention to budget cuts and other challenges facing unions, particularly those that represent public employees.

The rally came on the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while he was in Memphis, Tenn., to support striking sanitation workers. There were similar union rallies in cities around the country.

Colorado state and local employees face plenty of economic challenges, including pay freezes and cuts, layoffs and slimmer paychecks because of increased pension contributions.

Michelle Pearson, 2011 Colorado teacher of the year, attended the rally and was interviewed by Eli Stokols, KDVR Fox 31 statehouse reporter (see video). Pearson teaches at Hulstrom Options K-8 school in the Adams 12 Five Star district, which has announced $30 million in cuts, including more than 90 teaching jobs.

What’s on tap:

The State Board of Education has scheduled an executive session from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. to discuss the commissioner search. The meeting will be at CDE, 201 E. Colfax Ave.

Aurora Public Schools board members meet at 6 p.m. at 1085 Peoria St., following a closed executive session at 4:15 p.m. Agenda.

Douglas County school board members meet at 5 p.m. but start with a closed session and aren’t scheduled to begin the public portion until 7 p.m. They’re meeting at district headquarters, 620 Wilcox St. in Castle Rock. Agenda items include a budget update.

Jefferson County school board members hold the first of two scheduled public hearings on the 2011-12 budget at district headquarters, 1829 Denver West Drive in Golden. The budget hearing is expected to begin about 6:30 p.m. Board members have allotted two hours at that time and, if necessary, will reconvene the public hearing after the completion of other business. Agenda.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Race is wrong: Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews says the popular documentary Race to Nowhere gets it wrong – U.S. students do too little, not too much, homework.

Tribute: Lena Lovato Archuleta, the first Hispanic female principal in Denver Public Schools, has died at age 90. DPS Communications.

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