Amendment 73 defeat turns school community back to legislature for equitable, sustained public education funding to help every Colorado student thrive
DENVER – The state with the best economy in the country fell short tonight when asked to invest in the future of Colorado, our students. Colorado educators will continue to press public school funding as a top state priority after the defeat of Amendment 73, which would have raised $1.6 billion annually for public schools and students and started to repair the damage caused by 10 years of severe school underfunding.
“Colorado needs to decide what kind of state it wants to be. Our state cannot continue to grow and maintain a robust economy without more investment in our education system,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association. “TABOR has a stranglehold on Colorado’s ability to deliver the schools our students deserve and that employers need for future growth. Coloradans need to come together to solve the problem of TABOR revenue restrictions for this state to make critical investments in our kids and their future.”
Colorado has withheld more than $7.4 billion from public schools and students since 2009, including $672 million in the current school year. The funding shortfalls have taken learning opportunities away from students and led to a massive educator shortage of 3,000 unfilled positions. Colorado has the least competitive teacher wages in the country; the gap in salary between teachers and other professionals is the largest in the nation. At the same time, corporations have received massive tax incentives at the expense of our students.
“More Coloradans voted to support increased school funding. The voters are moving with us and we will continue to engage with them. We expect our new governor and legislature to take notice of the public support for our schools in this election and take action to ensure our students and educators have adequate resources,” Baca-Oehlert explained. “It shouldn’t take 17,000 educators marching to the Capitol as we did in April to make our voices heard, but we are prepared to do what it takes to stand up for our students.”
As the leading voice of educators in Colorado, CEA is looking forward to sharing its legislative priorities with the governor and legislature and working collectively to end school underfunding as quickly as possible, whether in the 2019 legislative session or on a future ballot. Alongside funding, the CEA will insist teachers are respected as the expert professionals they are and given autonomy to do their jobs through student-centered, educator-led policies.
“We shared the stories of our students and made public education the centerpiece of Election 2018,” Baca-Oehlert concluded. “Thousands of teachers and school support staff joined education supporters across the state to put Amendment 73 on the ballot and engage so many voters. I am so proud of our entire education community for the tremendous energy that fueled this truly grassroots campaign. Educators show up every day for Colorado’s children and we will not stop fighting for the schools our students deserve.”
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