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Sign us up to save tax money AND make education better in Colorado

Posted by Kelly Maher on February 8th, 2011
 
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I keep hearing that education funding in Colorado may be one of the casualties in a brutal budget year. Yet, as we noted recently, state Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, proposes to help the budget AND improve educational choices.

“The state spends about $6,000 or $7,000 per pupil that attends public school from K-12,” Swalm told me. “So what my bill [HB11-048] does is take half of that money, about $3,000, and makes it available to parents who take their child out of a public school - and puts them in a private school - and allows those parents to use that $3,000 as a tax credit to help pay for that private school tuition.”

There’s also a home-school component of the bill that would give those families up to a $1,000 per-pupil tax credit.

“HB 11-1048 will cause about 7,700 full-time-equivalent students to enroll in a home-based or private school who would have otherwise remained in public school each year,” according a fiscal note on the bill.

That means the state would have to provide somewhat less money to the schools than they would otherwise, an amount estimated at $35.6 million for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The state would forego about $15.3 million in income taxes from the credits, meaning that - on balance - the state would save about $20 million the first year.

Sounds great. When do we get this bill passed and signed into law, start saving taxpayer money and provide kids and their parents with more choices in Colorado?

Oh wait.

“We are basically opposed to spending tax dollars on private schools, private or religious,” Jeanne Beyer, director of communications for the Colorado Education Association, told The Colorado Independent last month.

Swalm’s proposal, titled the Quality Education and Budget Reduction Act, doesn’t involve “spending tax dollars” on any private institution. It would, however, give a tax credit to parents who chose to educate their children outside the public school system.

But, as we learn repeatedly, school reform is a bridge too far for obstructionist teachers’ unions, such as the CEA, which represents 40,000 education professionals in Colorado. I wonder if any of those CEA members might SUPPORT Swalm’s proposal. If so, send me an e-mail at [email protected]

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kelly Maher
    Kelly, a co-founder of WhoSaidYouSaid, brings more than 10 years of campaign and policy work experience. In addition to her skills in grassroots activism and organization, Kelly has a knack for distilling complex issues into accessible messages that resonate with voters. Her policy specialties include health care, education, employment and tort reform. Follow Kelly on Twitter at @okmaher.

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