Committee approves SB-89 to address livable educator wages, improve retention with dedicated funds
DENVER – The bill to create a dedicated incentive fund for resources specifically allocated for educator pay is one step closer to passage today after clearing the Senate Education Committee.
Sens. Nancy Todd, Tammy Story and Jeff Bridges voted in support of Senate Bill 89. The bill establishes the Educator Pay Raise Fund, through which school districts could apply for funds to increase their minimum salaries and wages for teachers and education support professionals.
“We are very pleased the Committee members had a thoughtful discussion on educator pay today and showed their resolve to help educators live in the communities where they serve by approving this much-needed legislation,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, a high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association.
CEA supports SB-89 as a way to begin to fix the educator pay crisis, the number one priority of educators during this legislative session. Currently, Colorado has no mechanism at the state level to direct funds specifically to educator pay, meaning the legislature can direct more funding to public education but those new dollars might not be used to help retain quality educators in our schools.
“Educators are frustrated, working two to three jobs to make ends meet and spending their own money on school supplies, while other professionals live much more comfortably in this very robust state economy,” Baca-Oehlert added. “It’s time to see our state’s economic success reach the classroom and adequately compensate the professionals who chose the education profession to help prepare our students for their futures.”
CEA laid out the stress educators experience in keeping up with Colorado’s high cost of living in its State of Education report. Starting teacher pay in Colorado is 47th in the nation according to the National Education Association, and business.org recently ranked Colorado dead last in the country in wage competitiveness, with teachers earning 40% less than the average salary in the state.
Educators seeking a livable wage have public opinion on their side: three-quarters of Americans support raising educator pay – the highest level of support in a decade – while 76% of Coloradans think teacher pay falls short, up from 51% in 2011.
SB-89 is co-sponsored by Sens. Jessie Danielson and Leroy Garcia, and Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez.