Facebook Twitter

Funding bill gets final House approval

Updated 12:45 p.m. April 30 – The House Tuesday voted 52-12 to pass the bill needed to fund K-12 education in the coming school year.

Text of Monday story follows.

The bill needed to fund K-12 education in the coming school year breezed through preliminary House consideration Monday evening.

The easy passage of Senate Bill 13-260 was in contrast to some of the suspense around the bill in the Senate Education Committee (see story) and the drama both on the Senate floor (see story) and in the House Education Committee (see story).

For school districts, the bill is a welcome change from the school finance bills of recent budget-cut years. Total program funding, the combination of state and local funding that pays for basic school operations, would rise to $5.5 billion, increase of about $210 million. Average per pupil funding would rise from the current $6,479 to $6,652, a 2.7 percent increase. (Get more details on the bill here.)

Sponsor Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, proposed a successful amendment to require that 75 percent of any excess state revenues at the end of 2013-14 go into the State Education Fund, the dedicated account used to supplement education funding. As the bill came from the Senate, only 50 percent of the surplus would have gone to the education fund.

There was a brief out-of-left-field moment when Rep. Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, proposed amendment to eliminate a tax exemption for newspaper advertising inserts and put the $6 million raised into special education. No one was quite sure where that came from, and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, went to the podium to note that Republicans usually oppose elimination of tax exemptions. The amendment was defeated.

Asked why the bill moved so quickly on the House floor in contrast to the drama at earlier stages, one lobbyist quipped, “They’re tired.” The 2013 session has to adjourn by May 8.

Also on the move Monday

• The House overwhelming rejected a conference committee report on House Bill 13-1081, the controversial bill to create a new grant program for districts programs in comprehensive human sexuality education. The House wants a new conference committee to talk about language in the bill related to abstinence education.

• The House Education Committee gave 12-0 approval to Senate Bill 13-214, the measure that would require the Building Excellent Schools Today program to maintain a reserve equal to annual lease-purchase payments and give the legislative Capitol Development Committee final review of BEST lease-purchase project lists.

• House Education was divided on Senate Bill 13-193, which passed on a 7-6 party-line vote. The measure is intended to encourage increased involvement of school accountability committees in school improvement plans, would require school districts to have a designated staff member as a parent contact and allow the state Department of Education to hire a parent involvement specialist.

Committee Republicans were skeptical of the need for the bill and its cost. Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, even attempted to amend the bill to include the text of his defeated House Bill 13-1172, which proposed a parent trigger law and an A-F grading system for schools. That went nowhere.

• The Senate gave preliminary approval to Senate Bill 13-279, which would require new school buildings to meet various energy efficiency standards.

• The Senate State Affairs committee passed House Bill 13-1257, which would give CDE oversight of educator evaluation systems when districts choose to create their own.

Budget bill now law

Gov. John Hickenlooper Monday signed Senate Bill 13-230, the 2013-14 state budget. The bill contains base funding for K-12 education, which will be augmented by money in SB 13-260 (see above). The bill also includes $31 million in additional funding for higher education, a boost of $5.3 million in need-based financial aid and about $102 million for college campus construction and renovation projects.