Fiesta’s hosts meeting on state education funding |

Fiesta’s hosts meeting on state education funding

Scott N. Miller

It’s time to get educated on education.

That’s the feeling of Debbie Marquez, co-owner of Fiesta’s New Mexican Cantina in Edwards. Marquez, who is also involved with the local and state Democratic Party, has put together a Saturday morning breakfast meeting with three state education officials.

Set to appear at the meeting are Jared Polis and Evie Hudak of the Colorado Education Commission, and Cindy Carlisle of the University of Colorado Board of Regents. All three are Democrats.

Mary Ann Stavney, a member of the Eagle County School Board, will be the meeting facilitator. Karen Strakbein, the district’s assistant superintendent, will also participate.

Stavney said her understanding of the meeting is that it’s an attempt to generate some local action.

The issues facing the state’s education budget are grave. Between the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amendment, which set tax and spending limitations, and 2000’s Amendment 23, which mandated increased spending for public schools, other state programs including higher education are facing everything from tight restrictions to deep cuts.

Lawmakers during this legislative session have proposed a series of possible fixes, all of which would require further amendments to the state constitution. Possible solutions range from outright repeal of some elements of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and Amendment 23 to Gov. Bill Owens’ suggestion to put both amendments “on hold” for two years to let state revenue levels catch up with the amendments’ requirements.

“Amendment 23 does help us continue to offer programs we do and might help us in the future. It is important,” Stavney said. Asked about the wisdom of perhaps putting the measure’s provisions on hold for a while, Stavney said she needs to give the issue more study.

Which is part of the point of the Saturday meeting, Marquez said.

“We need to educate ourselves about what’s going on,” Marquez said. “If every community doesn’t come up with something ” if they’re not willing to be educated on issues and take action ” then we can’t see government changed for the better.”

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