DENVER — The largest teachers union in the state of Colorado is proposing an emergency tax relief bill to raise revenue as the state faces a $3 billion budget gap due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On, Wednesday, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) held a virtual meeting to discuss the budget a day after the state slashed nearly $500 million from the higher education budget next year. Further cuts are expected for K-12 education.
“The notion that our schools and students will bear the brunt of the cuts needed to balance the budget is unacceptable,” said CEA President Amie Baca-Oehlert.
The group said schools are already not fully funded and are still impacted from budget cuts during the Great Recession.
“A current 10th grader has never experienced a fully funded system, per pupil funding lags $2,700 below the national average,” Baca-Oehlert said.
Along with a tax relief bill, the CEA proposes cuts to other departments and a pause on accountability systems, like standardized testing.
“The state last year spent about $24 million on standardize testing — again, that’s a place we can look to put a pause on assessments,” Baca-Oehlert said.
The governor announced this week he’s allocating $510 million from the CARES Act to help K-12 schools, but it is unclear if those funds will offset cuts to the education budget.
The Joint Budget Committee is still reviewing the K-12 budget and hasn’t made any final decisions.