…but like other policy prescriptions that so decidedly bear the GOP brand, it probably won’t go anywhere in the Democratic-controlled House. And it might not even make it that far.
Senate Bill 39, introduced in the Republican-run upper chamber by school-choice warrior and Berthoud Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg, still has to go the Appropriations Committee after its approval this afternoon in the Senate Finance Committee.
Legislation from either party, in either chamber, can cool its heels for quite some time in Appropriations as the Joint Budget Committee shapes up the annual state budget and decides how much money there is in the overall fiscal piggybank. Sometimes, appropriations even can be the gentler version of the legislature’s notorious “kill committees.” Bills go to the kill committees to face execution; in “Approps,” death can be lingering.
None of which is to pass judgment on the merits of the bill itself, which as a press release today from the Senate GOP communications team tells us:
…creates an income tax credit for families who move a child from public school to private school or home-based education program.
For private schools, the credit may be carried forward for three years and will equal 50 percent of the previous year’s per pupil revenue, or the amount of tuition paid, whichever is less.
The credit for home-based education will equal $1,000 for students who enroll on a full-time basis.
A compelling proposal to many Republicans; an unacceptable one to most Democrats To vastly oversimplify the politics surrounding what is a complex piece of legislation affecting many different stakeholders: Don’t expect Democrats to even give the time of day to this perennial favorite of Republican education reformers. It’s not just about differing political philosophies, either.
Public school districts don’t like it because it takes kids away from their schools, lowering their student count and forcing them to rejigger their budgets to figure out how to pay for the same amount of teachers and real estate with fewer per-pupil dollars from the state. Budgeters don’t like it because the tax credit would leave a gaping hole in the state budget. Teachers unions — a political heavyweight in Democratic circles — don’t like it because, well, they simply don’t like any educational setting where their dues-paying members aren’t doing the teaching. Democrats as a whole embrace all of these objections.
To that, you can add a concern voiced by Democratic state Sen. Nancy Todd of Aurora, as noted in a press release from the Senate Democrats following the bill’s approval in the Finance Committee: This seminal education proposal never even went to its most logical committee of reference, the Education Committee on which Todd serves.
All of which spells D-O-O-M for the proposal for yet another session. As of now, the bill doesn’t even have a House sponsor, a good indicator of its likely fate.
Nevertheless, Lundberg, who has carried essentially the same bill many times before, proudly holds his banner high. As quoted in the Senate GOP press release:
“One-size-fits-all education does not work for Colorado kids…Expanding choice and opportunities for middle class and low-income Colorado families to help give more kids the tools they need to succeed in the classroom and beyond is a top Republican priority, and today, we were able to take a crucial step in setting more Colorado students up to achieve.”