Statement from CEA President Kerrie Dallman on the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) proposal, March 23, for a $50 million increase to the Negative Factor, the ongoing cut to Colorado students and schools…
“While the JBC’s budget is far better than what was initially feared by the education community, a $50 million cut is still a hit to public schools and students in the 2017-18 school year. The Negative Factor will balloon to $881 million if the JBC budget is approved by the Legislature over the coming weeks.
“Students will see even less resources in their classrooms because of a 35-year-old constitutional amendment that eliminates local funding for schools and other vital services. With Colorado’s significant population growth and even bigger increase in residential real estate values, the Gallagher Amendment is kicking in and cutting local revenue. Gallagher will potentially reduce property taxes due by $150 million or more, forcing more difficult conversations in communities across the state. Students are staring at cuts to sports and music programs, furlough days for staff, school closures, and reducing school weeks from five days to four. Gallagher is forcing similar problems for local emergency service providers – fire departments and other special districts – which also rely on local property tax revenue.
“Compounding Gallagher is the state’s lack of sufficient revenues to meet the basic needs of its people and the inability to take advantage of its strong economic growth due to TABOR. Funding for public education requires the state to backfill any loss of local dollars to school districts, but in 2010, the Legislature created the Negative Factor, which allowed lawmakers a loophole out of this requirement and instead created an ongoing ‘IOU’ to Colorado’s school-aged children. Public school funding needs to be a priority for our state. Our students have endured nearly a decade of cuts to their schools and their classrooms. Lawmakers must lead on a solution for our schools.”
Note: Passed in 1982, the Gallagher Amendment requires a constant ratio between residential property tax revenue and business property tax revenue. Whenever residential property values outpace business property values, Gallagher requires the residential property tax rate to drop, resulting in fewer local dollars to support schools and other vital services.