Colorado’s marijuana tax money could fund full-day kindergarten rollout | VailDaily.com

Colorado’s marijuana tax money could fund full-day kindergarten rollout

JON MURRAY | The Denver Post
Jared Polis talks to kindergarteners during a visit to Avon Elementary
Chris Dillmann, Vail Daily

Colorado lawmakers have hit on a funding source to help struggling school districts cover up to $25 million in startup costs as they expand full-day kindergarten this fall: marijuana taxes.

The money is expected to aid districts in rural areas, as well as others short on cash. It would help buy new desks and furniture, fixtures for bathrooms and classrooms, and other equipment schools need as they expand their full-day kindergarten offerings.

To assist with those one-time expenses, lawmakers hit on tapping the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) fund, which already draws from marijuana tax money to issue local grants for school construction projects. The proposal is part of a bipartisan bill that also would deliver a $125 million boost in direct school construction assistance across the state in the next two years.

The state recently has put $40 million a year from retail marijuana excise taxes into the BEST fund, fulfilling a requirement of Colorado’s 2012 vote to legalize the sale and possession of recreational marijuana. The fund also includes revenue from other sources, including the lottery and state land leases and royalties.

The proposed increases fit with “the will of the voters when they voted for Amendment 64 — to put these dollars towards public education,” said Rep. Shannon Bird, D-Westminster, during an Appropriations Committee hearing last week on House Bill 1055.

Read the full story via The Denver Post.