Call to Order and Opening Remarks
LEGISLATIVE INTERIM COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL FINANCE
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08:35 AM -- Call to Order and Opening Remarks
The hearing began with opening comments from the chair and members of the interim committee; Following some opening remarks from chair, Rep Garnett invited comment from the other committee members. Several members discussed their desire to keep focus on students when moving forward with the work of the interim school finance committee. Sen Merrifield read from prepared remarks, and distributed a letter to the editors of the Colorado Springs Gazette. (Attachment A)
Rep Lundeen's comments focused on the intersection of finance and policy, concluding that one should be driving the other. Sen Gardner echoed his colleagues' intent for the committee to focus on students, not institutions or existing structures. Rep Leonard shared his optimism about the work, and opined that the focus of the committee should be on efficiency, and on student need. Rep Hamner remarked she is also excited to be part of the work. The representative expressed hope that the committee will "move the needle"; will have good conversations; and will emerge with a bipartisan finance bill. Rep Hamner shared her concern that the focus of the interim committee should remain on student success, and on the equitable distribution of resources. She asserted that there is still great inequity in that distribution. Rep Hamner also made reference to the Governor's executive order to reanimate the Education Leadership Council to create an education policy vision for the state of Colorado.
Vice Chair Owen Hill arrived at the committee at 8:52.
Rep Buckner remarked that she is excited and ready to dig into the work. Rep Buckner feels that past efforts at revising the school finance act had left off important issues around how to define student success, and how to foster a sense of worth in students.
Sen Zenzinger reminded members of the interim committee to study the Public Employees' Retirement Association (PERA), and challenged this current school fiance committee to leave politics at door and come together to create recommendations that the public can trust. Moving forward, this work requires attentiveness, open minded ness, and a commitment to arrive at conclusions.
Sen Sonnenberg shared his excitement for the work. The Senator described the great variance of the school districts in his Senate district. Large, small, well funded, etc. The senator shared his willingness to keep an open mind and learn about the issues and problems related to school finance, recognizing what an important issue it is as a economic driver and state priority for a properly educated workforce.
Sen Hill welcomed the members of the committee. Sen Hill asserted that vouchers and tax increases are the bookend policies, the extreme positions, and that neither are likely to be part of the outcomes of this interim committee. The vice chair challenged members to keep their focus on what can be accomplished, on the realm of the possible. He reiterated that vouchers for public education or new taxes to increase funding are both non starters and the committee shouldn't get distracted arguing issues that are unlikely to find resolution.