School district expects to cut $4.5M next year
EAGLE COUNTY – Colorado’s new budget restores funding cuts for schools, but the local school district is still taking a wait-and-see approach.
The state Senate passed next year’s budget Thursday night, about a week after the House approved it, with both chambers passing it by record margins.
“It holds the record for having the most legislators vote for it,” said Sen. Jean White, relieved to have it finished.
White represents Eagle County in the Colorado state Senate this year, until redistricting leaves us with someone else after November’s election.
“It’s been a crazy ride these days,” White said.
The full budget tops $19 billion, though most of that is money lawmakers can’t control. The smaller general fund under legislative control is $7.4 billion.
The state’s fiscal year begins in July.
The spending plan restores the governor’s cuts to K-12 education and funding for the educator-effectiveness program, a statewide program being instituted that will tie teacher pay to performance, White said.
Around 42 percent of the state’s budget is consumed by education funding.
“The budget was balanced to the most conservative revenue projections,” White said.
It maintains a 4 percent reserve, restores $100 million to the state education fund and creates a $13 million TABOR emergency-reserve fund for emergencies such as forest fires, White said.
“It reserves all the severance tax funding (paid by mining and drilling companies), so that money will stay in the communities,” White said.
The 30-5 Senate vote came after a 64-1 vote in the House. An improving economy has put more sales taxes and income taxes in state coffers, allowing lawmakers to reverse years of painful budget cutting.
The budget now goes to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his signature.
Following the money
The Eagle County School District was looking at cutting $5.5 million from next year’s budget. The state budget restores $1 million in state funding, so the cuts are down to $4.5 million. The school district has earmarked $5.1 million in cuts, $3 million from job cuts and the rest from benefit cuts and cuts to transportation and maintenance.
The cuts have been made, and they’ll wait to see how many students show up this fall when school starts before hiring anyone back, Macke said.
Colorado’s schools are funded through a combination of property taxes, vehicle taxes and state funding. The Eagle County school district gets around 36 percent of your property tax dollars in Eagle County, according to the Eagle County Treasurer’s Office.