Education: How Much Will Hick Cut?

February 2011

For education officials across Colorado, Tuesday will be a telling day. That's when they're hoping to have a much better idea of what budget cuts will look like in the 2011-12 school year. The clamor so far is mostly over how deep the cuts will be. Statewide school funding is expected to be at least $165 million less next year than this year, according to Education News Colorado. And that's a best-case scenario. The figure will likely be much higher—maybe even more than double that number.

More will be known tomorrow afternoon, when Governor John Hickenlooper is scheduled to release his budget proposals for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in July. In case you're not caught up, Senate Majority Leader John Morse, a Democrat from Colorado Springs, offers a simple summary: "Next year's budget is going to see huge cuts."

Many sources tell the Denver Post that K-12 education could take a $400 million hit, which would be the largest cut since the recession began. Schools are already dealing with $260 million in losses (a six percent reduction) this budget year. "At a minimum, there will be significant layoffs, and many people will lose their jobs as a result of the cut of the magnitude that's being discussed," says Bruce Caughey, executive director of the Colorado Association of School Executives. Some lawmakers are trying to soften the impact. For instance, the state Senate recently voted to take $4 million from a Colorado Secretary of State's Office cash fund created by business registration fees to help K-12 education, writes the Denver Business Journal.