Colorado legislators 2019 to-do list is a long one

From education to fracking, voters leave plenty for legislators to do

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 12/5/18

As the old saying goes, “if you don’t first succeed, try, try again.” Since Colorado voters rejected funding options for both transportation improvements and pre-K-through-12 public education …

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Colorado legislators 2019 to-do list is a long one

From education to fracking, voters leave plenty for legislators to do

Posted

As the old saying goes, “if you don’t first succeed, try, try again.”

Since Colorado voters rejected funding options for both transportation improvements and pre-K-through-12 public education while also leaving the fracking issue front and center, the state legislature needs to start early in the 2019 session to produce viable solutions.

While the last legislative session produced a “backup” ballot issue for the November, 2019 election to vote on transportation bonds, it is highly likely that it will be re-worked or tossed for a different ballot proposition more favorable to the Democrats who will be in control.

Funding for public schools should be a high priority as Colorado lags way behind in funding per student compared to other states across America. Our schools are also still struggling by having less funding than before the Great Recession.

And finally, the fracking issue is not going away. It needs a reasonable solution in which both residents and the oil and gas industries will find to be workable. The 2,500-foot setback for drilling wells was excessive just as was the funding level for public schools increasing the state income tax at a specified level.

Colorado’s youth deserve increased support

Speaking of increased funding for preschool-through-12 education, it is encouraging to learn that state legislators on both sides of the aisle are supportive of changing the way schools are funded in Colorado.

The current approach has been in place since 1994. It should be pointed out that there have been various attempts to change the funding approach over the past 24 years but nothing of consequence has changed. Now is the time for the legislature to be bold and develop a more equitable approach taking more into consideration the variances among school districts.

As we know, the demographics and economics vary considerably among districts not only throughout Colorado but within the Denver metro area as well. Currently, the Public School Finance Act first takes into consideration the number of students in each district. Then the per pupil dollar amount is adjusted to account for cost of living and personnel cost of living, size of a school district plus additional funding for at-risk students which is based on how many students qualify for the federal free lunch program.

It’s a daunting task to put all the pieces together plus address the Gallagher Amendment, TABOR consequences and add more funds, but it has to be done. Colorado’s youth deserve more support to obtain a viable education and vocational training. We will watch as the session next year gets underway.

Colorado’s largest day of giving

We have enjoyed Thanksgiving with family and friends. Now, we look forward to Christmas, Hanukah and other faiths’ celebrations. It’s the season of giving. Plus, it’s the season to be thankful.

Just this week, we Coloradoans had the wonderful opportunity to easily contribute to the charities of our choice.

Colorado Gives Day, which was Dec. 4 this year, is organized and sponsored by First Bank and Community First Foundation. They provided $1 million to start, which is distributed among the participating non-profit organizations. This year the bank and foundation are offering cash prizes to the non-profits on top of splitting the $1 million.

Colorado Gives Day is the state’s largest day of giving. Last year, donors celebrated the day by giving $36.6 million to 2,308 non-profits according to the Community First Foundation.

I am writing this column in advance of the designated day of giving and I will bet you that contributions top last year’s generous donations. It’s a great event that helps so many good organizations that in turn help less fortunate children, seniors and families.

Thank you, First Bank and the Community First Foundation, for your community-minded support

Attention, non-believers!

With the release of the most recent analysis on the impact of global warming/climate change, it is the appropriate time to share an article I had clipped a few weeks ago. If you are not among those of us who believe global warming/climate change is real, then perhaps some of you non-believers will want to consider the potential negative impact on the price of beer.

Yes, I said climate change can impact future beer prices. According to a study conducted by the University of California, Irvine, increasing bouts of extreme heat waves and drought will hurt the production of barley in the future. As we know, barley is a primary ingredient in beer-making. The study projected that losses of barley yield could be as much as 17 percent which translates into beer prices doubling even when factoring in inflation. These predictions were published in the “Nature Plants” journal.

The costs of life’s little pleasures

It was noted in the article that scientists often have a challenge in communicating their findings to the general public in a way that will garner the public’s attention. In the case of global warming/climate change, connecting the prediction of decreasing barley supplies to increasing beer prices should give some skeptics pause to contemplate climate change and what can be done about it.

While we are on the subject, it was mentioned that chocolate, coffee and wine will also be scarcer and costlier in the future. When you throw in these life’s little pleasures, who might be left to doubt global warming??

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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