Debt-free schools act passes Colorado House

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The Colorado House of Representatives gave final approval Friday to the Debt-Free Schools Act, sponsored by Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, and Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan. The act would give school districts the power to seek voter approval to fund school construction and maintenance needs through an additional mill levy.

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Diane Mitsch Bush

“Right now, schools can’t plan ahead when it comes to funding for construction and maintenance,” Mitsch Bush said in a news release. “Because of that, they end up going into debt and end up paying for debt service out of their operating budgets. This bill gives schools an option to raise funds and pay as they go for construction costs, which means more money for our classrooms.”

HB16-1354 specifies that revenue raised from such a mill levy may earn interest and must be used for the sole purpose of paying for the capital construction and facility maintenance needs of that district.

The 53-12 House vote sends the bill to the Senate.

Comments

Russell scott 11 months, 3 weeks ago

This looks like a game changer. It's got my vote.

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Scott Wedel 11 months, 3 weeks ago

School finance is extremely tricky and this article just scratches the surface of what are the issues. We will see if State Senate decides if it favors some school districts over others.

As for school finance, Monday's city council meeting has another oversight meeting of the mountain URA which is diverting substantial revenues from the school district. According to the meeting minutes of the last city council URA oversight meeting, the URA is spending $75,000 for a study to think of possible additional projects.

I think the mountain URA has reached it's goals and it is time to let it expire. When it expires then those tax revenues cease to be diverted from the schools, county and library.

The meeting minutes indicate not a single member of the public spoke during any of the Dec items being considered.

I am going to be there. I hope I am not the only one. It does not take a whole lot of public involvement to create enough of an issue to get a newspaper article written on the issue and put the city council under a spotlight having to justify their actions.

I note that they are planning to appoint members to the mountain URA board. I suggest that they be told to spend some money on a study on ending the URA instead of searching for anything to spend money on.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Is it just me, or does this bill open the door for greater school district financial inequality. Some districts will be able to pass mill levys and some districts won't.

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Scott Wedel 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Dan,

I think that might be the issue that it faces in the State Senate.

Also, as I understand it, not all districts have local property taxes paying the same share of per pupil funding due to the way the State set the rules in 1997/8 So this measure would seem to benefit districts with low taxes and a higher state share that could then pass a new measure to spends lots of money on facilities and maintenance and still be paying less in taxes than other districts that are paying a higher share of per pupil funding.

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jerry carlton 11 months, 3 weeks ago

I just mailed 2015 property tax and school got 39% of it. CMC got 8.9%. 48% of property taxes for education. Sounds like enough to me.

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Scott Wedel 11 months, 3 weeks ago

Jerry,

So if city instituted a property tax then percentage to schools would decrease. Would that make you happy? :)

Please show up at Tuesday's city council meeting as mountain URA oversight board and tell them to wrap us and end the URA.

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