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SB 213 Part 2: Special interests come to the party

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As an update on the huge school finance reform bill, an amendment was added to the bill that confounds charter school advocates in many ways. A handful of legislators, trying to protect their districts, added an amendment that would improve the funding for five of the wealthiest districts in the state. The cost to taxpayers of that amendment is approximately $300 million. That would be added to the already daunting $950 million increase in taxes required by the original bill. Over a 30% increase would go to five districts.

The amendment is even more concerning for charter school advocates because the legislature has denied several appeals by charter advocates to add to the pool of money available for charter school capital construction. The amount of money would be approximately $12 million, pocket change compared to what the five districts are asking for.

As the political, not educational, nature of this bill becomes increasingly obvious, law makers will eventually be at the will of the general public as this bill, even if it becomes law, will still be subject to voter approval of the tax increase. Approval of a $1 billion tax increase was already questionable as it would mean approximately $200 per Colorado resident or $800 for a family of four, which would be much greater for a family with above average income. Pushing the total up another 30% greatly reduces the chances of the tax increase passing, which would wipe out any improvement in education funding that this bill would make.

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