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Rep. Jim Wilson, R-Salida, talks with Rep. Beth McCann. D-Denver, during the 2013 legislative session. (Brennan Linsley, Associated Press)
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GOP legislative ace says voters would fund education, if they’re convinced

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Rep. Jim Wilson knows Colorado education, especially poor, rural schools, better than anyone in the Capitol. The fiscally conservative Republican from Salida spent 40 years as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent before he entered politics.

He was educated in a two-room country school in Corwin, Kan., through the 8th grad and grew up on a wheat and cattle farm. Wilson is the ranking member on the House Education Committee, and he sits on the prestigious House Appropriations Committee and House Finance Committee.

Few work across the aisle better than Wilson to pass the bills he’s passionate about, which are usually about education.

“Unfortunately, it’s going to be survival this session, because there is no extra money,” he said of the outlook for schools. “If we do anything with the School Finance Act, it’s just rearranging the chairs on the Titanic for the same amount of money, and there will be winners and losers.

“I’m going to fight for hopefully maintaining where we are until we can figure out what we actually need to do to fix this situation we face in this state.”

Wilson said simply asking for more revenue, however, is not the answer.

“Rather, we need to develop a comprehensive plan, similar to the recent state water plan, that addresses school funding statewide, how schools are allocating resources and a sound fiscal strategy for long-term sustainability,” he said.

But in a perfect Jim Wilson World, that solution would be?

“I think the perfect solution would be to go to the people with an explanation of what our education system needs to look like and what it’s going to take to make it take on that appearance financially, as well as in our responsibility to the people of Colorado,” said the Republican talking taxes.

“I think they would vote for that, I think (once) the people of Colorado are confident, when they hear all the ins and outs, pros and cons, and how the money is spent. That’s the biggest question: Where’s it going to go and what are we going to get for our bucks?”

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