Courting more school funds

A trial that got underway in Denver Monday could skew state financing so heavily that public schools would be almost the only state-funded function. That is, unless Colorado taxpayers approve an enormous tax increase.

We certainly believe additional money for schools is needed. But, if this lawsuit is successful, it would take critical funding decisions out of the hands of our elected representatives.

The case was filed on behalf numerous parents around the state. It claims the state’s system for funding K-12 education is unconstitutional because it fails to provide “a thorough and uniform system of public schools” as Colorado’s Constitution requires.

But, as Attorney General John Suthers noted, that constitutional provision says nothing about funding for schools or where money should come from.

The plaintiffs argue the state should spend at least $3 billion a year more on schools. But, if it occurred, K-12 funding would jump from 46 percent of the state’s general fund to almost 90 percent, Suthers said. There would be little left for any other state needs.

Unfortunately, the court that hears this case will consider school funding in a vacuum. State lawmakers, in contrast, have to figure out how to finance all state needs with the revenue available.

Even Coloradans concerned about K-12 financing should hope Suthers is successful in convincing the court that school finance should remain the responsibility of our elected officials.


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